Over the course of the next few months, you will hear all about Johnny Manziel's flashy skill set, Blake Bortles' impressive size and Jadeveon Clowney's freakish athleticism.
But there is one prospect, one quarterback who is so perfect for the Houston Texans that it would be an undeniable shame if the Texans went with anyone else with the first pick of the draft. (Trading back always presents a variety of other options, though.)
Teddy Bridgewater is his name, and he is the player with the potential to lead the Texans out of despair and into greatness.
When watching tape of Bridgewater, the first thing any scout or fan will notice is his unbelievable pocket presence. For so many quarterbacks who struggle in the NFL, pocket presence is their major issue—just look at Matt Schaub and Case Keenum.
Bridgewater, though, possesses a pocket presence beyond his years, likely because of his trial by fire. Louisville was notorious for its porous offensive during Bridgewater's career there, but it never seemed to bother the young quarterback.
Bridgewater would stay in the pocket for as long as possible and would never attempt to escape it until he absolutely had to. He also displayed a Manziel-esque capability for avoiding pass-rushers.
Just check out the video on the side; he escaped one seemingly impossible situation after another, but he still somehow managed to keep his eyes downfield the entire time. He placed the ball perfectly for his receiver in the end zone, and the result was one of Bridgewater's most exciting touchdowns in his collegiate career.
But Bridgewater's impeccable pocket presence is only a small portion of the skill set that makes him such an intriguing prospect.
Next up is the faith his head coach and offensive coordinator placed in him at the line of scrimmage. When Bridgewater first arrived at Louisville, he quickly devoured the team's playbook and was well on his way to understanding complex defensive formations before his first college game as a freshman.
As a result, Charlie Strong and Shawn Watson—Louisville's head coach and offensive coordinator, respectively—did something rare for college coaches: They gave Bridgewater the ability to call audibles at the line of scrimmage in his sophomore year.
On each and every offensive play, Louisville's coaches call a play from the sideline. Then, Bridgewater is given the opportunity to diagnose the defense, read where the blitzes are coming and change the play to something more suitable.
According to Watson, this is extremely rare for college quarterbacks, and he essentially believes Bridgewater is a coordinator at the line of scrimmage.
I study pro ball, that’s what I do, that’s my passion, my love. (NFL coaches) are the best at what they do, so I’ve made it what we do. Most of these kids in college, the coordinator calls it from the press box and then there’s a signal system once the defense declares. The quarterback never gets developed, never gets taught. Teddy’s been taught from day one that I want him to be the coordinator at the line of scrimmage because he can be far better than me. And he can put the ball wherever he thinks is right.
Bridgewater is quite literally more adept at calling audibles as a redshirt junior than Schaub after his lengthy NFL career.
It does not end here, though. The third and final pillar of Bridgewater's game is his excellent accuracy. Bridgewater is great at placing the ball exactly where it needs to be, and his ability to place the ball perfectly to the correct read allows his offense to methodically march down the field.
Here are two charts, courtesy of RotoWorld, that compare Bridgewater's accuracy to other elite college quarterbacks entering the NFL draft.
The first one shows the accuracy of Bridgewater and other quarterbacks in terms of how far the ball traveled in the air.
From this chart, it is clear the Bridgewater has the clear advantage in accuracy over any other college quarterback. Manziel has him slightly beat in the 11-plus-yards zone, but that is about it. Bridgewater's only area that truly needs improvement is the deep ball, where his completion percentage is about average. Also, his percentage in the 1-5-yard and 6-10-yard zones are startlingly good, and that is the area that the majority of elite quarterbacks work in order to efficiently move the down the field.
The next chart outlines how effective each quarterback is when throwing under pressure and against the blitz.
When observing this chart, it is easy to see why so many scouts are excited about Bridgewater. He deals with pressure extraordinarily well, and he is nearly as effective against the blitz as he is when the defense holds back. That's Peyton Manning-like.
The quarterback that comes close to Bridgewater in this area is Bortles, who has a slightly better percentage than he while under pressure and when not facing the blitz. Manziel's completion percentage, meanwhile, seems to fall drastically when he's under pressure, and his ability to combat the blitz is nowhere near as effective as Bridgewater's in terms of throwing the ball—Manziel definitely has the advantage running the ball.
Finally, no quarterback makes more sense in the Texans' offensive system than Bridgewater. New head coach Bill O'Brien favors a game-plan system, which means it is adapted on a week-to-week basis in order to take advantage of the weaknesses in their opponents.
That means the quarterback who runs this system needs to possess a highly versatile skill set and be able to feature different aspect of his game on a weekly basis. This, quite frankly, screams Bridgewater.
While Manziel—Bridgewater's top competitor for the top quarterback taken—has every chance to be just as good or even better than Bridgewater when it's all said and done, he is the type of quarterback that needs an offensive system designed around his skill set in order to highlight the positives of his game.
This is not a negative, but he does not seem to fit as well in O'Brien's differentiated offensive scheme as well as Bridgewater does.
If the Texans decide to go with a quarterback with the first overall pick, it most definitely should be Bridgewater. No other quarterback possesses a skill set that matches up as well with the Texans as Bridgewater's does.
He is the type of quarterback that requires minimal development. Like so many other great quarterbacks before him, he is NFL-ready and should be able to pick up the keys to any NFL offense.
He should be the one to lead the Texans into the future.
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