Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Scouting the 2014 NFL Draft: Teddy Bridgewater

Today, I want to take a look at a prospect that most have had at the top of their list of quarterbacks the entire year. Teddy Bridgewater has had scouts salivating over his talents for years now, and most still view him as a top-5 pick in this upcoming draft. Still, that #1 quarterback position has been challenged recently by Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel, so it is no longer the lock it seemed to be a couple months ago. I had watched a little bit of Louisville this season, and from what I saw, I was impressed, but I decided to dig deeper by looking at his games against Ohio, a conference game against Houston, and the bowl game against Miami.

The first thing that stands out is Bridgewater just makes things look easy. He quickly finds his receiver and fires the ball.

This play is not going to be shown on highlight videos, but I need something to warm up the audience to what they are about to see through this breakdown.

He has a lightning quick release.

I don't make much out of releases, because there are much bigger things to focus on with quarterbacks, but seeing how quickly he can fire the ball while still putting zip on it is impressive.

He is very quick at going through his progressions. On this play, it appears that he looks at four different receivers. He looks left to start, then shifts back to the right. Then he shifts back to the middle, but he takes an extra split second before dumping the ball to the running back, because he was looking at the crossing pattern beyond the running back at first, but saw the defender closing down that route.

He does this all in approximately three seconds. It comes about 15 yards short of the first down, but he gave every option a look before settling for the short gain. Outside of accurately throwing the ball, there may not be an aspect more important than being able to quickly go through the progressions when finding an open receiver.

One thing that I sadly have to clarify is that although he is a black quarterback, he's not a running quarterback in the mold of RG3 or Colin Kaepernick. Louisville did do some read option with him, but it was more as a change of pace as opposed to being the backbone of the offense. That being said, he is still very athletic, as he moves really well in the pocket, but he's more quick than fast. He has great footwork, as he can quickly adjust his feet and set to throw. That being said, there are some refinements that could make him even better in the future as shown on this play.

The positives are that he was able to avoid the pressure this time, focused his eyes back on his receivers down the field and made a positive play. However, spinning and looping backwards is a dangerous game, and it has cost him big losses at times, as his left tackle could be doing his job and still be taking the edge rusher right into him with that strategy. If he slips up into the pocket, he's got a perfectly clean throwing lane and a much easier play. On a lot of plays, Bridgewater will do a good job of stepping up, but he does try that bail out technique more than I like. The key positive is that he is not a quarterback who puts the ball down and decides to run immediately. By keeping his eyes downfield, he opens up opportunities by being able to throw or run even when his protection breaks down.

He also does a very nice job of staying in the pocket instead of panicking when there is a blitz. On this play, his protection picks up the pressure, and he is able to fire the ball right as his receiver turns around despite having a guy in his face.

It is a small thing, but his blocking pushes the blockers beyond him on the blitz, so he takes a small step up and fires the ball to his receiver. It's not a wow moment, but it does a good job of showing his pocket awareness.

He throws very well on the move. Even when rolling to his left, he is able to throw a hell of a ball down the field while on the move. That is just ridiculous.

If he's rolling to his strong side, that's still a great throw. Yes, his receiver was wide open, but that was still going to require solid coverage to not get beaten on that ball. There aren't a ton of quarterbacks who can roll to their weak side and throw a 40 yard strike. Teddy Bridgewater can.

Bridgewater shows amazing touch on balls. This is something that is rarely seen from any quarterback, especially in college, but he knows when to use his arm strength, and he also knows when to take something off of it to put the ball exactly where he wants it.

This is just a beautiful loft into the end zone that lands perfectly in his receiver's hands. You can hear the announcer laugh after the play, because it's so tough to come up with the proper words, so all a person can do is chuckle about what they are seeing.

There are some games where his deep ball is on, and there are other games where he can struggle. Against Miami, he was a little off for most of the day. Still, on these back-to-back throws, he shows the good and bad. The first ball is overthrown, but he is definitely able to redeem himself with the next throw.

He is under pressure on that first throw, and he may have put a little extra on it because of that. He more than makes up for it as he is able to throw a nice ball down the sideline that his receiver can go up and get. Against Ohio, everything was on, and he was consistently putting the ball wherever he wanted it, so I have very little concern that he won't be able to challenge teams down the field at the next level.

This is one of my favorite throws that I saw from him. He looks over the middle first, sees nothing there. Then he looks to the right, and throws the ball just as the receiver is breaking to the outside, so his receiver has room to stay in bounds. Plus he puts plenty of zip on the ball so the corner has no chance to make a play, and there is also no way for the safety to get there in time to break up the route over the top.

He is on the near hash, so if he takes even a split second longer, it is going to be very difficult for his receiver to stay in bounds on that route. He does a great job at everything on this play.

Finally, my favorite pass from Bridgewater.

The way he fires this ball and places it perfectly on the back shoulder is something to behold. I could watch this pass all day.

The first word that comes to mind when watching Bridgewater is smooth. Everything he does looks so effortless. He is doing these incredible things, but he makes it all look very easy. Nitpicking, he could handle pressure better as the bailing out technique can cause some serious losses, his deep ball consistency could use some work, and he looks a little thin which could cause injury issues. Other than that, hoo boy, I think I'm in love. I really like Blake Bortles, but Bridgewater is just better. That smoothness also makes me think his success is more easily repeatable than Bortles. That is why I give him the edge and rank him as my #1 quarterback that I have scouted so far. I think the Texans would be crazy to pass on him, even for a physical freak like Jadeveon Clowney. The quarterback position is by far the most important position in football, and that is why it would be a huge mistake to take anyone other than Teddy Bridgewater.

Here are my quarterback rankings for the prospects I have looked at so far:
1. Teddy Bridgewater - Louisville

2. Blake Bortles - Central Florida
3. Zach Mettenberger - Louisiana State
4. Logan Thomas - Virginia Tech
5. Aaron Murray - Georgia


  1. I love the way you wrote this up and with chopping clips it's even better. Great article, and perfectly explains why I love Teddy and hope Houston is stupid enough to pass on him. I want him in a Jags uni.

    1. Thanks a lot. I can't imagine what Jags fans would do to upgrade to Bridgewater from Gabbert.

      Still, I'm really hoping that the Texans take him, because if they are healthy this year, that team is a legitimate contender in the AFC with competent quarterback play, and almost everyone agrees that Bridgewater has the best skill-set to succeed early in his career.

  2. I love the way you wrote this up and with chopping clips it's even better. Great article, and perfectly explains why I love Teddy and hope Houston is stupid enough to pass on him. I want him in a Jags uni.


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