November 28, 2014

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(UPDATED) NFL Scouting Combine, Day 2: Central Florida QB Blake Bortles contrasts himself with Johnny Manziel, says he’s “trustworthy, won’t embarrass organization”

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

INDIANAPOLIS — Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles portrayed himself as the anti-Johnny Manziel this afternoon at the NFL scouting combine.

“All I know is that I’ll be trustworthy, I won’t embarrass an organization off the field by making any bad decisions or anything like that,” Bortles said. “I won’t embarrass my family’s name, and will be a trustworthy guy, a trustworthy player.”

Bortles didn’t take a direct shot at Manziel, a rival, along with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, to be the top quarterback and player taken in the draft in May.

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him a little bit these past two days,” Bortles said. “He’s a great kid, I’ve enjoyed talking to him.”

But Bortles repeatedly said he was “trustworthy” and wouldn’t “embarrass” his franchise or family. Manziel was arrested after a bar fight in college and suspended for a half of a game for signing autographs.

Bortles also noted he was 6-foot-5, 230 pounds — 5 inches and 25 pounds bigger than Manziel.

“I think being able to do things in the pocket,” Bortles said when asked what differentiates him from the other top quarterback prospects. “Being 6-5, 230, being able to throw off platform, extend plays with my feet, stuff of that sort. Able to handle a lot of offense, able to make throws, being trustworthy, I think are all things that are key in being the top quarterback prospect.”

Bortles also hopes to separate himself by throwing at the combine Sunday. Manziel will work out but not throw, choosing to wait for his pro day.

“I want to compete,” Bortles said. “That’s kind of who I am, that’s what I want to do. I look forward to doing everything here.”

Bortles said he was recruited by only four colleges coming out of high school. Central Florida was one of two that wanted him to play quarterback.

Now he’s in position to possibly be the No. 1 overall pick of the Houston Texans. He feels he belongs.

“One hundred percent I do,” he said. “That’s why I’m here, that’s why I’m invited. I believe that I can compete with any guy here, and that’s why I’m doing everything I’m doing. That’s why I’m throwing, that’s why I’m running, doing all this stuff. Why wait till pro day when you have an opportunity to make your first impression here in Indianapolis.”

TALKIN’ CHUD
Colts coach Chuck Pagano has known former Browns coach Rob Chudzinski since 1986, when Chudzinski was a tight end at the University of Miami. So it was a natural fit for Pagano to hire Chudzinski after the Browns fired him Dec. 29 following his only season as a head coach.

“It’s a great opportunity, a great hire for us,” Pagano said. “Chud is going to be a great resource. His special title is special assistant to the head coach. He’ll be heavily involved with a lot of the things I do on a daily basis. He’ll be a great resource for me. He’ll be a great resource for our entire coaching staff, not only our offensive staff, defensive staff, special teams, gameday management.

“He’s a brilliant guy, a really bright guy, a very smart guy and a really good football coach. He’s well-versed in a lot of different areas. We had an opportunity to add another piece to the puzzle which makes our team better and gets us one step closer to our ultimate goal, and that’s hoisting the Lombardi and participating in Super Bowl XLIX in Phoenix.”

WOULDN’T TRADE T-RICH
Colts general manager Ryan Grigson defended his decision to trade the Browns a first-round pick for running back Trent Richardson.

Would he do it again?

“Yes,” Grigson said, moving quickly to the next question.

The Browns have the 26th pick in May courtesy of the Week 3 trade, while Indianapolis has the No. 3 pick in the 2012 draft who rushed for only 458 yards, a 2.9 average per carry and three touchdowns in eight starts and 14 games after the deal.

“I think there’s room for improvement like I could say for anyone,” Grigson said. “There are areas in Trent’s game where he really did show up and help us in key situations … There’s obviously a big magnifying glass on him every week, but we see positives. We watch the tape, we evaluate it and see how a guy is progressing. We feel like he’s going in the right direction.”

Pagano also believes Richardson has a bright future.

“The sky’s the limit for Trent, having a full offseason with us,” he said. “This will be an important offseason for him. We are looking for great things from Trent and Trent looks for great things from himself. Moving forward there are high expectations there.”

MANZIEL: I’VE CHANGED
Manziel said he has changed his lifestyle and is prepared to be the face of an NFL franchise.

Manziel talked for 15 minutes this afternoon at a news conference at the scouting combine. He was poised and professional in a packed house.

In the morning, Manziel was measured along with the other quarterbacks eligible for the draft. He was 5-foot-11¾ and 207 pounds with 97/8-inch hands.

“I feel like I play like I’m 10 feet tall,” he said. “Measurements are just numbers.”

Manziel has a couple of large hurdles to clear if he’s going to become a top-five pick in May. His goal is to be selected by the Houston Texans with the No. 1 pick.

Manziel will have to convince teams he’s tall and sturdy enough to excel in the NFL. He also has to answer questions about off-the-field behavior that has gotten him in trouble and made headlines.

“I believe whenever I decided to make the decision to turn professional, it was time to really put the college years in the past,” he said. “It’s a job now. Coaches’ family and jobs and all kinds of things are on the line.

“It won’t be a hard thing to kick. I’ll be extremely focused on whatever organization I’ll be at.”

Manziel will be researched and grilled by NFL teams until the draft. He was asked how he’s going to assure them he’s got the right character.

“Just be myself,” he said. “Now it’s just a chance for them to sit and get a chance to know me personally, ask me any question they want. I’m not shying away from anything they do have to ask me.”

Manziel is working with quarterback guru George Whitfield and trying to improve as a pocket passer. He said playing in the cold wouldn’t be a problem if he went to the Browns, who have the No. 4 pick.

“You have to handle whatever is thrown your way,” Manziel said. “It’s a man’s game played in tough environments.”

Manziel won’t throw at the combine, but said he’ll throw any pass teams want him to during private workouts.

“I’m not going to shy away from anything,” he said.

Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or spetrak@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter @scottpetrak.