Before the start of the 2013 college football season, Teddy Bridgewater was considered one of the best NFL prospects for the 2014 draft. Throughout the season, Bridgewater has done nothing to change the minds of those who viewed him as a potential No. 1 overall pick.
But after a season in which the Louisville football team fell short of its goal of playing in the American Athletic Conference Championship game and potentially a BCS bowl, it appears Bridgewater hasn't made a decision as to whether he'll enter the NFL draft or play his senior season with the Cardinals.
Brett McMurphy of ESPN reported the news on Twitter:
UL's Teddy Bridgewater told @ESPN he's "undecided" whether to leave early for NFL & "not leaning either way"— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 17, 2013
As for what will go into his decision, McMurphy continued on to say that it will not have anything to do with the teams that end up with the top overall picks:
UL's Teddy Bridgewater said whatever teams have top picks in 2014 NFL Draft "will not impact" his decision— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) December 17, 2013
In his final tweet about Bridgewater, McMurphy included that the junior will not announce his decision until after playing in the Russell Athletic Bowl against Miami on Dec. 28:
While it is clear that Bridgewater could still have a lot to prove with the Cardinals during his senior season, here are the reasons why it simply makes more sense for the junior to declare for the 2014 NFL draft when he makes his final decision.
Still No. 1 Overall
Currently, the Houston Texans hold the No. 1 pick. While it appears Wade Phillips believes current quarterback Case Keenum is progressing, according to Drew Dougherty of HoustonTexans.com, several pundits like Peter Bukowski of Sports Illustrated and Rob Rang and Dane Brugler of CBS Sports believe that Bridgewater will be picked by the Texans when the draft comes around.
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report even called Bridgewater a "slam dunk" to enter the draft before the season started:
I considered Teddy Bridgewater a slam dunk to enter this year's class, but people close to him tell me it's not a sure thing right now.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 16, 2013
Taking all of this into account, Bridgewater still appears to be the best prospect at the quarterback position this season. Whether he views it as important or not, Bridgewater cited financial reasons as one of the reasons he might leave for the draft, according to Jonathan Lintner of the Courier-Journal:
I can finally say I reached my ultimate goal and it would change my mom's life (financially). I can make an impact on my environment, where I grew up in Miami, showing there's no restrictions what you can reach. That someone from the same neighborhood can make it out.
If Bridgewater were to leave this season, he would likely still be the No. 1 overall quarterback taken. If he holds out, it might not be that simple.
This college football season, two other quarterbacks emerged that could potentially challenge Bridgewater as the best signal-caller in the 2015 NFL draft. With Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston progressing at a rapid pace this season, it appears either could overtake Bridgewater next season.
In fact, one NFL draft scout told Mike Huguenin of NFL.com that if Winston were eligible this season, he would be chosen over Bridgewater. While Mariota will be on the West Coast, Winston and Bridgewater will be in the ACC Atlantic Division together.
The date may not be set, but Louisville is guaranteed to play Florida State at home in 2014. Though it may be an exciting matchup for fans to see two future NFL quarterbacks facing off, it could either send Bridgewater's stock skyrocketing or see it drop dramatically.
Could Teddy Bridgewater be passed by Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston in the 2015 NFL draft?
Then there were the stories earlier in the season like the one Coy Wire of Fox Sports wrote in October that lists Mariota as the best quarterback in college football. This thought has changed since the time this article was written, but it could also change before the 2015 draft.
Bridgewater may want to return for another season to finish what he started, but his stock is higher now than it potentially could be next season. While there is a long list of quarterbacks like Ryan Leaf and Tim Couch who left early and didn't pan out, the Louisville quarterback has NFL teams convinced he will be great.
Bridgewater, who will already graduate from Louisville on Dec. 19, should announce he will be leaving the Cardinals for the NFL following his final bowl game. Though it might not be the best outcome for Louisville, it is the best decision for Bridgewater.