DraftBrowns.com Editor: Brendan Leister
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is one of the most talented quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL Draft class. At only 21 years old (birthday is November 10th, 1992), Bridgewater is also one of the youngest quarterback prospects in the entire class. During his three-year college career, Bridgewater played in all 39 games. He completed 781 out of 1142 passes (68.4%) for 9,817 yards, 72 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions during that time. In his final season, he completed 303 of 427 passes (71%) for 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Teddy Bridgewater is an extremely tough football player that has played through injuries during each of the past two seasons and never missed a game during his entire career. He has showed the ability to hang in the pocket, take big hits, and get back up and ready for the next play multiple times throughout his career.
Teddy Bridgewater brings an even-keel approach on the field and never seems to get too high or too low regardless of the situation. Due to the fact that mistakes are inevitable at the NFL level, it will be important for Bridgewater to continue playing with the poise that he has played with up to this point in his career.
At Louisville, Bridgewater played in a West Coast Offense that included a lot of timing throws to the short and intermediate portions of the field. Most deep throws were thrown down the sidelines rather than up the seams or between the hashes. Unlike many college quarterbacks, Bridgewater has plenty of experience dropping back to pass from under center and turning his back to the defense in the play-action game.
In a day where “Check With Me” offenses are very prevalent, Bridgewater has much more experience changing plays and making checks at the line of scrimmage than many quarterbacks do when they come out of college. This experience should help him in his transition to the next level.
Bridgewater played against a lot of poor defenses in the American Athletic Conference/Big East throughout his career. He threw to a lot of wide open receivers, but showed the ability to make timing throws into coverage when needed.
When he faced the Florida Gators in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, Bridgewater led his team to a 33-23 victory while completing 20 of 32 passes for 266 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. The performance earned him the Sugar Bowl MVP award. The Gators finished the season 11-2 (including the loss to Louisville) and boasted one of the top defenses in the country during the 2012 season.
At 6’2″, 214 lbs., Bridgewater possesses adequate size for the position with a slight build. He possesses average-sized hands at 9 1/4″ and chose to wear gloves most of the time during his college career. The fact that he wore gloves is only notable because so few quarterbacks choose to do so.
Although he may not be the most physically gifted quarterback in the 2014 draft class, Teddy Bridgewater displays good throwing velocity with impressive anticipation, accuracy, and timing to the intermediate level of the field. This combination should give Bridgewater a chance to make every necessary throw at the next level.
Bridgewater is a very good athlete inside and outside the pocket with a nice feel for when to take off and when to stay in the pocket. His ability as a runner will allow him to make defenses pay for undisciplined play.
Teddy Bridgewater possesses quick, quiet feet in the pocket that allow him to get the ball out quickly and on time. For the most part, he does a good job of gaining depth when he drops back to pass and driving off his back foot at the top of his drop. On the occasion that he does not drive off his back foot at the top of his drop, he sometimes throws flat-footed; which can lead to inaccurate throws with a loss in velocity.
One of the most impressive aspects of Bridgewater’s game is how he moves around in the pocket. He is comfortable stepping up in the pocket to avoid the rush and shows the ability to do so with extremely quick, efficient movements. He typically stays very poised in the pocket while keeping the ball in a carriage that allows him to get the ball out as soon as he finds an open target.
When rolling out to his left, Bridgewater does a good job of getting his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and making accurate throws. Many quarterbacks struggle when moving to their left, but Bridgewater displays the ability to throw accurately on the run in either direction.
In charting every pass from the 2013 season and 20 games over the past two seasons, I have found that Teddy Bridgewater is extremely accurate to the short and intermediate levels of the field. Bridgewater typically does a great job of throwing on time and giving his intended target a catchable pass in stride. However, there are a few times every game that he tries to take some velocity off his throw and misses high or behind a wide open receiver. Overall, Bridgewater is one of the most accurate passers in the 2014 draft class and the easy misses are a very small piece of the puzzle.
The one area of the field where Bridgewater struggles to throw accurately is in the deep portion of the field. As evidenced by the charts above, you can see that most of Bridgewater’s passes down the field were thrown down either sideline. On passes 16+ yards from the line of scrimmage down either sideline, Bridgewater was on target on 26 of 63 passes (41.27%). On passes 25+ yards from the line of scrimmage down either sideline, Bridgewater was on target on only 11 of 31 passes (35.48%). Although there was a much smaller sample size due to Louisville’s offensive system, Bridgewater was much more accurate on deeper throws between the numbers. On passes 16+ yards from the line of scrimmage between the numbers, Bridgewater was on target on 13 of 23 passes (56.52%). On passes 25+ yards from the line of scrimmage between the numbers, Bridgewater was on target on six of 11 passes (54.55%). If Bridgewater’s accuracy on passes deep down the sidelines does not improve at the next level, opposing defensive coordinators will take note and begin to change their game plans accordingly.
Teddy Bridgewater consistently does a good job of managing the game, keeping his offense on schedule, and taking what the defense gives him. He is a very decisive passer that understands the importance of getting the ball in the hands of his playmakers quickly. When he decides against forcing the ball down the field, he almost always knows where his check-down option is.
For the most part, Teddy Bridgewater displays great eye discipline. He rarely stares down his intended target and has proven to be comfortable standing in the pocket and scanning the field. When facing coverages with a single-high safety in the middle of the field, Bridgewater does a good job of looking off the safety and exploiting single-coverage.
All in all, I view Teddy Bridgewater as one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class. Due to his experience at Louisville, Bridgewater should be more prepared than many rookie quarterbacks from a mental and mechanical standpoint. When it comes to his ability as a passer, Bridgewater needs to improve in some areas (especially down the field), but it does not change the fact that he is an extremely accurate passer on the run and to the short and intermediate portions of the field.
Although I cannot blame a team for selecting Teddy Bridgewater with a top-five or ten pick, I remain unconvinced that Bridgewater will ever be more than a good starter at the NFL level. His lack of top physical tools and the fact that he did not always dominate inferior competition lead me to believe that he does not have the upside to be a top quarterback at the next level. With a top ten pick, I want a quarterback that has the potential to become a franchise quarterback that can elevate his team to a championship-caliber level for a sustained period of time. While he is a very good quarterback prospect with more positives than negatives, I simply do not see that type of ability in Teddy Bridgewater.
2013: Miami, Cincinnati, UCF, Memphis, Kentucky, Rutgers, Connecticut, Temple, Houston, Eastern Kentucky, South Florida, Ohio, FIU
2012: Florida, Syracuse, Connecticut, Temple, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, South Florida
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