As The NFL Draft Looms, Teddy Bridgewater Is Drowning

The Teddy Bridgewater story is a familiar one. Coveted quarterback prospects often get dissected by scouts more thoroughly than guinea pigs.  Back in August, I discussed the possibility of Bridgewater tumbling head over heels like Brian Brohm circa 2008.

Bridgewater avoided nearly every obstacle during the season and ended his senior season as a top-three prospect.

The worst thing you could say about Bridgewater used to be that he’d already reached his ceiling—at 21. The worst possible scenario for his career was pre-rotator cuff injury Chad Pennington.

The middle ground is Matt Ryan and the upside is Aaron Rodgers.

Bridgewater’s skillset resembles Rodgers and, not surprisingly, the parallels have continued into the pre-draft period.

Bridgewater’s dip began when scouts fears were confirmed after he measured in with 9 ¼ inch hands. If hands were tires, Bridgewater’s were a pair of low-performance tires on a Corvette.

His decision not to throw at the NFL combine wasn’t unusual, but it did draw some ire from fellow prospect Tajh Boyd, telling ESPN's Josina Anderson, "I thought we were here to compete" when she asked about his opinion on Bridgewater's inactivity.

On his Pro Day three weeks ago, Bridgewater struggled, proving that the glove on his right hand was the most valuable mitten since the King of Pop’s diamond-embedded glove was twinkling underneath ‘80s strobe lights.

Things spiraled out of control during a rocky Pro Day performance in which Bridgewater threw gloveless in an act of defiance that went horribly wrong.

Pro days are supposed to go smoother than lipsyncing Whitney Houston in the shower. Instead, the narrative cast Bridgewater as Blake Shelton imitating Twista on karaoke night. His Pro Day was the worst 87 percent completion percentage (57 of 65 passing) in recent memory.

Mike Mayock called it average at best and now considers Bridgewater a non-first round talent after studying more tape. Bridgewater may still go first to the Houston Texans.

Over a dozen years ago, Drew Brees was ripped on his Pro Day and dropped to San Diego as the first pick of the second round. The same fate may await Bridgewater.

The Texans, Browns, Raiders and Jags used to be Bridgewater’s suitors. He’s since descended into a lower class of quarterback prospects. The scenarios for Bridgewater have become limitless. Most likely, the most pro-ready quarterback in this draft may end up as the one who sits behind a starter on a playoff team.

It’s a better fate than falling into the Cleveland Browns directionless franchise at No. 4 and the Jags may be even worse because of Justin Blackmon’s issues with alcohol abuse.

The Minnesota Vikings make the most sense at No. 8 where Christian Ponder is a lame duck entering the final year of his rookie deal. Adrian Peterson is the last of a great generation of invaluable running backs and Cordarrelle Patterson is a 6-3 magnet who moves like a slot receiver who can melt snow when he’s blazing past defenders.

Bridgewater’s mobility and understanding of complex passing concepts would make him an ideal fit alongside Peterson in play-action.

There’s also the Arizona Cardinals and Bruce Arians’ vertical passing offense. However, the deep passing game isn’t considered a strong suit of Bridgewater’s.

At No. 23, the Kansas City Chiefs should buy stock in Bridgewater. Alex Smith’s inability to challenge defensive backs vertically puts a cramp on Andy Reid’s style.

Bridgewater is deceptively elusive when he has to be and is a more talented deep chucker than Smith. In the West Coast, Reid has incorporated sprint-outs that were used from McNabb to Smith. Smith is a better precision passer than McNabb, but his inability to throw deep mitigates the impact of play-action fakes for deep threats like Dwayne Bowe.

Bridgewater avoids turnovers as well as McNabb and Smith and athletically he’s the median between the two, but he’s the best of both worlds. Andy Reid may think highly of Smith in the short-term, but Bridgewater would signify a brighter future.

These last two scenarios would end up with Bridgewater sitting for maybe two more years, but would have him walk in Aaron Rodgers’ footsteps by having him workshop daily with two of the best to ever do it and serve as a bridge to a new era.

If there was ever going to be a Peyton Manning apprentice, Andrew Luck was the prototype. Bridgewater is the younger brother from another mother. His mastery of pre-snap recognition and responsibilities at Louisville was some Peyton-like artistry. It’s rare to see a quarterback given so many play-calling liberties and after Peyton hangs up his cleats, Bridgewater may be next in line as emperor of the pre-snap technicians.

However, Elway will be thinking defense because he’s got Super Bowl on his mind and using a first round pick on a backup quarterback would be a distraction from their title aspirations.

The Patriots are an organization on the other hand that could seemingly withstand the scrutiny.

For some inexplicable reason, the Patriots have locked in on Tom Savage as Tom #2, aka Brady’s apprentice, but I don’t buy it. It’s unlike New England to be so open about their intentions and this reeks of a smokescreen from a head coach who won’t even divulge accurate injury reports.

Bridgewater and Brady has a nice ring to it. Belichick and Bridgewater sounds even more harmonious. The NFL is a meritocracy. Bridgewater may be drowning beneath criticism and gasping for air like water infiltrating his lungs, but in a few weeks a sensible franchise will throw him a life vest and save themselves in the process.

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