Teddy Bridgewater did nothing short of reinforce the widely held notion he is the top quarterback prospect entering the 2014 NFL draft with a strong showing as he led the No. 18 Louisville Cardinals over the Miami Hurricanes in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
While also a dominant showing for the Cardinals in a 36-9 win, it was all about Bridgewater in what may have been his final collegiate game. The junior threw for a career-high 447 yards and three scores on a 35-of-45 day, with another touchdown on the ground for good measure.
Bridgewater finished 35-of-45 for 447 yards passing and 3 TDs while adding a rushing TD. The 35 completions were 1 shy of a career high.— LouisvilleFootball (@UofLFootball) December 29, 2013
Teddy Bridgewater: career-high 447 Pass yds. He improves to 7-1 with 21 Pass TD & 3 Int in his career vs Florida schools #MIAvsLOU— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 29, 2013
Bridgewater sets a new school record for single season TD passes with his 31st surpassing the previous record of 30 by Brian Brohm in 2007.— LouisvilleFootball (@UofLFootball) December 29, 2013
Bridgewater entered the game with 3,523 yards, 28 touchdowns and four interceptions to his name and ranked as the No. 1 2014 quarterback prospect over at CBS Sports. But remember, Bridgewater is not a lock to enter the draft as John Middlekauff of CSN Bay Area reported:
Multiple sources tell me Teddy Bridgewater has contemplated returning to school. No decision has been made at this point— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) December 13, 2013
But after the impressive performance, Bridgewater made it sound like his collegiate career was at an end, per Jerome Solomon of the Houston Chronicle:
"What a way to go out," Teddy Bridgewater. Translation: "See ya."— Jerome Solomon (@JeromeSolomon) December 29, 2013
The star quarterback further elaborated after the game, per Adam Himmelsbach of the Louisville Courier-Journal:
Teddy: "I'm not setting any type of date or timeframe...i'm gonna sit down, talk with my coaches, my mom, some of my mentors."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 29, 2013
Teddy: "We'll all have decisions to make, but tonight we wanted to focus on this game."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) December 29, 2013
Bridgewater's stock could not get any higher at this point, especially after an impressive swan song against the Hurricanes. He has his degree. He has two bowl wins. Despite the rumblings of some, he is likely the first quarterback, and perhaps player, off the board in 2014, which is not a guarantee should he return for another season.
Daryl Ruiter of CBS Radio put it best after the big win:
And Teddy Bridgewater's NFL resume is complete; now time to move on to the next level; he already graduated & has nothing left to prove— Daryl Ruiter (@RuiterWrongFAN) December 29, 2013
Listed at 6'3" and 205 pounds, Bridgewater still has to answer questions about his height as NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano points out:
Teddy Bridgewater doesn't look 6'3", but he looks like a darn good QB.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) December 29, 2013
Alas, some in the draft community, such as CBS Sports' Dane Brugler, say there is no consensus top quarterback—yet:
As much as I like Teddy Bridgewater, fact is, there is no consensus QB in this class. So many differing opinions in NFL circles #NFLDraft— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) December 29, 2013
At some point, that title will go to Bridgewater—if it has not by the next morning after his impressive showing against Miami.
NFL teams can forgive his imperfect physical traits (especially after being taught a lesson by Russell Wilson) and instead focus on his pinpoint accuracy (70.2 completion percentage in regular season) and other impressive pro intangibles.
The surgical precision and relentless dismantling of the Hurricanes was simply the icing on the cake for Bridgewater's stock. His on-field product is pristine, and all he has to do now is interview and work out well for pro teams—if he declares, that is.