Before Teddy Bridgewater announced he would return for the 2013 season, many had him as the clear No. 1 quarterback in the draft, but here we are a year later, and some say he may not even end up as a first-rounder.
Bridgewater was one of the most prolific passers in college football as a sophomore, and he was even better this past season. He threw for 3,970 yards along with 31 touchdowns and a trivial four interceptions. Bridgewater was once again one of the best passers in the country, which leaves one to wonder: What changed people's minds?
It’s not a total mystery, as his fellow quarterbacks have creeped up on him a bit. Guys like Jimmy Garoppolo and Derek Carr—two talented quarterbacks from smaller schools—have also risen up draft boards rather triumphantly.
Johnny Manziel made some serious improvement on the field, and Blake Bortles has experienced a steady rise up draft boards since he led his team to a victory in the Fiesta Bowl.
In fact, the Houston Texans, who currently hold the No. 1 overall pick in May’s draft, are reportedly smitten with Bortles and Manziel, according to Russ Lande of Sports on Earth. Lande reported:
According to trusted sources, the Texans are initially leaning towards taking either Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel with the top pick. Although Manziel would obviously be the choice of owner Bob McNair, [new head coach Bill] O'Brien is not sold that Manziel possesses the work ethic and intangibles necessary to be the face of a franchise.
Part of Bridgewater’s descent down draft boards isn’t because of anything he has or hasn’t done—it’s what the other quarterbacks have done. He wasn’t as big a story this year as he was last year because there’s actually some talent in this year’s crop of QBs as opposed to last year’s barren wasteland.
We’ve also seen more and more criticism of Bridgewater arise. Many more pundits are saying that he lacks in certain areas of his game and doesn’t have that “wow characteristic,” as NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah says.
B/R’s Chris Trapasso made a great point about this in his piece about Bridgewater:
While it's never an intelligent practice to bash one's view of a prospect just because it differs from yours, "draft stock" fluctuations after the games are played and before the combine are foolhardy and, in all likelihood, solely media driven.
Trapasso definitely has a point, as this wouldn’t be the first time teams did a little fabrication around draft time. Despite the possibility of this, there are certainly other things that could’ve possibly pushed Bridgewater down a bit.
He’s a quieter guy and doesn’t have the same star power as Manziel, which some teams deem very important for a franchise quarterback. For teams like the Jaguars that need a polarizing face of the franchise (along with some wins) to sell tickets, Manziel might actually be a better choice than Bridgewater.
That being said, he is not nearly the quarterback Bridgewater is.
While Bridgewater is still high on many draft boards and quarterback rankings, he’s not projected by many to be the first quarterback drafted.
|Dane Brugler||Matt Miller||Charles Davis||Mel Kiper Jr.|
|Blake Bortles, UCF||Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville||Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M||Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M|
Fortunately for Bridgewater, he still has plenty of time to prove himself as the indisputable best quarterback of this year’s class.
He will more than likely bring out quite a crowd of NFL scouts and talent evaluators at his pro day, which will be a very opportunistic time for him to showcase what he can do. Let’s not forget that he’ll also have the combine to show off his athletic ability, as well as his finesse as a passer.
Bridgewater may not be the biggest superstar of this year’s quarterback group, but he certainly is one of the best passers in this class, if not the best.
Personally, I believe he’s a top-10 pick. If Houston falls in love with Manziel or Bortles and selects either one of them, then there are still four other teams in the top 10 that could pull the trigger on Bridgewater. The Jags at No. 3, the Cleveland Browns at No. 4, the Oakland Raiders at No. 5 and (if he falls this far) the Minnesota Vikings at No. 8.
There's hardly a chance that he falls farther—although people thought that about Brady Quinn before he slid to No. 22 in 2007—but he probably wouldn’t even fall past the Browns if that's how things play out.
Bridgewater is a special talent, and although he may not have the same star power that these other cats have, he is still a very good, pro-ready player with a high ceiling.Houston, you’re on the clock.