The NFL Scouting Combine is officially under way, and there is plenty of hype growing around quarterbacks such as Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. However, the fact that Teddy Bridgewater is the top quarterback prospect in the 2014 NFL draft hasn't changed.
Bridgewater may not have the arm strength of Derek Carr, scrambling ability of Manziel or prototypical size of Bortles, but he encompasses everything an NFL team is looking for in a quarterback.
His high level or intelligence, methodical approach to the game and drive to succeed helps make him the most well-rounded quarterback prospect in this year's draft.
Bridgewater stands at 6'2", weighs 214 pounds and has 9.25" hands. His measurables are not off the charts; however, he is by no means undersized. He is nimble in the pocket and can make plays when under duress by keeping a cool head. He also makes up for advanced arm strength with near-flawless technique.
Blake Bortles' hand is 1/8" bigger than Teddy Bridgewater's. Slow your roll, haters.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) February 22, 2014
While at Louisville, Bridgewater operated in a progression-read offense, while many other college quarterbacks simply do not have any experience in this kind of pro-style scheme.
Taking a calculated approach to the game, Bridgewater has a mature attitude for only being 21 years of age. Despite coming into the NFL as a rookie in 2014, he encompasses leadership abilities that will allow a team to rally around him.
Teddy Bridgewater plays, acts and sounds like a No. 1 pick. Are we looking too hard for something to criticize? http://t.co/OHDpyWSkR4— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) February 22, 2014
Finally, Bridgewater has a high amount of confidence—both in himself and in his abilities. During an interview with Jim Corbett of USA Today, Bridgewater displayed that confidence:
No doubt, I feel that I'm the best quarterback in this draft. I'm not going to just say that. I actually feel I can back up these words. I'm just confident in myself and my capability of doing all the things at this position and to go out there and prove that I'm the best guy.
Plenty of NFL prospects—especially at the quarterback position—can say that they believe they are at the top of their position group. However, Bridgewater has a certain air about him when he speaks. It's easy to tell that he has been—and will continue to be—a student of the game.
Like other quarterback prospects, Bridgewater will not throw when the quarterbacks get a chance to work out at the combine. He's elected to throw solely at his pro day instead.
Although, unlike other prospects, he delivered an intelligent response, per Corbett:
I will throw at my pro day. The biggest thing was just me being a perfectionist, I just want everything to go right. Whether I'm taking a five-step drop and the guy is not on top of his route or the times when I don't have that chemistry with the guys, I tend to look at it from a pro standpoint. You want to be with your guys to have that timing and that connection. So that was the biggest thing.
Bridgewater is a perfectionist. That may be one of the most valuable traits to have in a young quarterback. No matter how good he is (or feels he is), he will continue to strive to get better.
His willingness to improve, drive to succeed and mental toughness make Bridgewater the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft.
Teddy Bridgewater says it was a "huge focus" to bulk up. Has put on 9 pounds since the end of the college season.— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) February 22, 2014
Teams that are in need of a signal-caller early in the first round will need a player who can adapt quickly and change the attitude of an offense. Bridgewater appears to have every trait to make that happen.
The #Texans have talent, and I'd think a Bill O'Brien and Teddy Bridgewater combination could work wonders with the available weapons.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) December 29, 2013
Once the 2014 NFL draft rolls around in May, if Bridgewater isn't the first quarterback selected, rest assured that at least one NFL team will eventually regret its decision to pass him by.