Much has been made over the last few weeks regarding Teddy Bridgewater, his less-than-great pro day, and most recently his meetings and private workouts. All things considered, Bridgewater is still my favorite quarterback in the 2014 draft.
I’d like to start off by saying that Bridgewater isn’t my favorite prospect. That prestigious honor goes to South Carolina defensive end Jadaveon Clowney. If by the rare chance Clowney is there at three, the Jaguars should definitely pull the trigger. When it comes to this year’s quarterbacks, however, Bridgewater is by far my favorite.
By now we all know about the pro day. Yes, he missed some throws, but I’m not going to move him down my board because of a few errant passes. Anyone who moves him down due to this, probably needs to do a little more research on exactly what a pro day is. It’s simply a piece of a puzzle. As far as these private workouts go, it’s hard for me to believe exactly what comes out of these NFL camps. It is officially lying season, and the closer the draft gets, the more the smoke screens will fly.
I like Bridgewater better than Manziel and Bortles. As fantastic a playmaker as Manziel is, I don’t think he can start day one. He tends to leave the pocket way too early for my taste and I’m not sure I quite trust how he goes through his reads. It’s almost as if he would wing it at times in college, and as incredible as it was to watch, that won’t work in the NFL. He will need time to learn the playbook and finely tune his craft at the position. Could he handle sitting a year?
Regarding Bortles, the sample size is just too small. His footwork is a train wreck, and while one could easily argue that footwork can be coached, old habits die hard. If Bortles is unable to refine his mechanics, I don’t believe his ceiling is as high as people think it is. He’s simply too raw for me right now. Throw in the fact that the offense at UCF ran more through running back Storm Johnson and the running game, and it adds even more doubt to Bortles’ ability to succeed at the next level. Bortles was not the sole reason for Central Florida’s success; can you say that about Bridgewater?
Jags brass has not been shy about how this year’s crop of rookie QBs need “seasoning.” That includes Bridgewater, so exactly why am I so high on him?
Bridgewater showed much more patience in college in comparison to Johnny Football. He showed the ability to go through his reads at a more efficient rate. There are questions about his frame and his arm strength, but Bridgewater displayed all of the traits of an accurate passer. I’ll take an accurate passer over a gun slinger any day of the week. He’s tough and he doesn’t get rattled easily, and he did it all without a Mike Evans catching passes and a Jake Matthews protecting him.
Yes, he needs seasoning, but he may not need as much seasoning as his two counterparts. I believe he is more pro ready than the two, and that once he learns how to be a pro quarterback, he will be exactly that-a professional. You don’t have to worry about his character flaws. You don’t have to worry about his mechanics. If Jacksonville picks him at three, I believe he’ll come in, understand what his role is his first year, and start learning as much as he can under Chad Henne.
It may not be this year, but Bridgewater has all of the tools and the right state of mind to develop and grow into a quality NFL quarterback. I simply cannot say the same for Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.
-David R. Johns