Hey there everyone. This article is the first in a series I will be doing on the Quarterback class in the 2014 NFL Draft. I will endeavor to cover each of the top prospects fairly, extensively, and with depth. If you have any comments, feel free to post them in the comments section.
Now, I chose this game for a few reasons.(Here is the link) One, I’m a football fan and hadn’t watched it before. Two, it was probably Teddy’s worst game this season and it was against good competition. I think breaking down where he is at his lowest can be very informative.
Rutgers Background: I came into this thinking that Rutgers would be a bunch of softies like most of the teams the Ville play. But I had a hunch and I went over to the nfl.com’s 2013 Draft Tracker. Rutgers had 5 players drafted in the 2013 draft, mostly by the Patriots. For comparison, Florida had 5 defenders drafted, and Alabama only had 4. I think this goes to show that this was a strong defense.
Louisville Background: They’ve played a really weak schedule this season, and dominated everyone. Going into this game, however, their offense was missing their best (and in my opinion one of the most underrated in the country, very good red zone threat) Wide Receivers by the name of Devante Parker. Also, about halfway through the game, their #2, a young man named Kai De La Cruz, also went down with an injury. So I think this is also a good opportunity to see how Teddy copes with receivers who maybe he isn’t as familiar with, and who probably aren’t as good as he is accustomed to.
Enough dilly dallying. Let’s dive into the numbers.
Firstly, I have to commend Louisville’s Offensive Coordinator. Their offense is supremely balanced – as in, usually 50% running, 50% passing. This time, they had 36 rushes to 31 passes, for 57% running to 43 passing. By my count watching the game, Teddy made an audible at the Line of Scrimmage 25 times, or roughly 37% of the snaps. This means that he was directing the offense more than once out of every three plays. This is rare for a college quarterback, and is in my opinion one of the best parts of Teddy’s game. He is able to mentally evaluate the defense and adjust his offense accordingly on a high level. Anyway, I digress.
Time for the passing numbers breakdown (I can’t remember whether I rounded down or up for the yardage rankings, but trust me I didn’t change anything.)
|D = Drop, * = Miscommunication, @ = Interception, $ = Touchdown. The % Adjusted removes drops and miscommunications from the accuracy rating.|
|Yardage Rank Left Center Right Total with Raw Percent (%Adjusted)||Left||Center||Right||Total with Raw Percent (%Adjusted)|
|1 to 5||3 of 3||0 of 0||0 of 0||3 of 3, 100%|
|5 to 10||1 of 1||2 of 4,D||3 of 3, $||6 of 8, 75%(85%),TD|
|10 to 20||3 of 4||1 of 2||3 of 4||7 of 10, 70%|
|20+||1 of 4,*@||2 of 2||2 of 4, $,*||5 of 10, 50%(62.5%), TD, INT|
|Totals||8 of 12, *@||5 of 8, D||8 of 11, $$,*|
His full stats were 21-31 for 310 yards with 2 Touchdowns and an interception, which is a 67% rate. Adjusted for the miscommunications and the drop is 75%. His Yards per attempt was a 10.0, and per completion was a 14.8. He also was sacked twice (once for a fumble on a completely blind hit), and ran the ball five times.
Whew, lots of statistics. Let’s each take a breath.
You good? I’m good. Let’s move on.
So really what all those numbers scream at me is accuracy. One doesn’t even need to crunch numbers to figure it out; when you watch him, he routinely makes pinpoint throws into tight windows. This game was his worst all season, and he still posted remarkable numbers. But let’s go deeper. Another thing I noticed was his accuracy when throwing the ball while rolling out to the left. Most right-handed quarterbacks have a very hard time doing this. Teddy knows how to use his athleticism to roll out quickly, square his shoulders effectively, and make an accurate pass downfield. He threw for a 75% rate between 10-20 yards while rolling left. This applies to his right-side throwing to an even greater degree. Good stuff. This leads me to his mid-range effectiveness. Honestly, this is where Teddy can really shred a defense, because of his understanding of Touch and anticipation, as well as his skill at reading a defense. In this game he threw 13-18 between 5 to 20 yards, which gives a 72% rate. He makes his money throwing the ball in the middle of the defense, where his accuracy and zip on the ball can make him very difficult to stop. The ball leaps out of his hand, and while I don’t think he throws a perfect spiral, he has a very good understanding of touch which allows his receivers to make catches easily.
Those were the positives. As I make a list of negatives, it’s going to be shorter, simply because there isn’t too much fundamentally wrong with his game.
His deep-ball accuracy wasn’t phenomenal. Notice, I say “not phenomenal”. Not “bad.” A 50% deep rate, with a TD and INT isn’t bad. It just isn’t as dominant deep as he is in the middle ranges. I attribute this to the fact that he plays in a West Coast offense, and the absence of his main receiver. Sometimes, though, he can float one over the head of his man or lead him too far outside. For any other quarterback, this wouldn’t be too noticeable, but the relative absence of flaw from the rest of his game makes nit-picking kind of a necessity. The kid is 20 years old, and with the combination of NFL coaches and long-term relationships with receivers, I believe this area, while not a weakness, can be polished to the level of his strengths.
Thanks for bearing with me, guys I’m almost done, I just want to talk about his intangibles for a second. Then you all get a cookie for reading my essay.
This is a tough, tough kid. At 6-3, 218 pounds, one might wonder if he has the size to make it in the NFL. If you are concerned about this, go watch his Florida tape. He got wrecked on the first pass and proceeded to dominate the rest of the game. Anyway. He took some shots this game as well. No matter the pressure, though, he doesn’t shy away from the hit. He stands in the pocket and makes the throw just about every time. He doesn’t always get hit, though. His pocket presence is uncanny. This is another one of his best traits, possibly my favorite. He’s athletic, to be sure, but he doesn’t run out of the pocket automatically if he gets rattled. He knows how to step up, back, or to either side while avoiding pressure. And the best part- he always keeps his eyes downfield. I was personally impressed with his awareness of his body in space and how he was able to maneuver it without really looking where he was going. He is a leader on and off the field, though you can’t really see it in the YouTube cut-up I watched. It all just adds up to my summary of Teddy.
Teddy Bridgewater plays a deliberate, mental game. Gifted with athleticism and arm strength, Teddy’s Football-IQ is what makes him a great quarterback. His ability to read defenses and check into the right play, to place the ball precisely where it needs to be for his receiver (especially in the mid-range passing game), and awareness of pressure are his greatest strengths. With few non-strengths, most noticeably in his deep-ball accuracy, he is supremely polished. This was not his best game, true. But taking into account the depletion of his supporting cast and the quality of his opponent’s defense, I was not disappointed watching him. He is, in my opinion, the best QB in the 2014 class and definitely someone the Jags should consider drafting in May.