Arm talent is not a quantifiable measurement like combine results and passing statistics. It’s hard to watch two NFL-caliber passers and definitively say “this guy is a better thrower of the football than this other guy.”
But consider what scouts said about Derek Carr and his arm talent coming out of college. On his NFL.com Draft Profile, Nolan Nawrocki stated that Carr had “terrific arm talent – releases from the ear and can make all the throws. Quick-armed with wrist snap.” On CBSsports.com, Rob Rang stated: “NFL-caliber arm strength to sling the ball all over the field, with the ability to throw the deep fade and fire passes into tight windows. Shows the ability to square his shoulders and fire passes with velocity and accuracy.”
On Bortles, Nawrocki praised his “good zip and accuracy on short-to-intermediate throws” but called his arm strength “slightly above average” and “adequate” and pointed out that he “does not spin spirals consistently” and could stand to “become more consistent with his mechanics.” Dane Brugler for CBSsports.com said he had a “smooth release with good zip” and said he “delivers well on the run” but followed up by adding that Bortles “lacks elite arm strength.” He went on to say that Bortles’ “Ball placement has room for improvement and his touch is undeveloped. Throwing mechanics have room for refinement.”
The eye test on the two players at the NFL level would tend to support these scouting reports: Carr can deliver the ball anywhere, and is adept at hitting open men in stride to allow for big catch and run plays, as well as hitting beautiful corner fades and fitting the ball in tight windows in clutch situations. Bortles’ has had some strong throws as well, but has much less of a highlight reel of amazing throws. And he definitely doesn’t have this:
Your move, Bortles.