Teddy Bridgewater didn't do himself any favors at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine, but when it's all said and done, his production at Louisville will outweigh any negativity surrounding his flop at Lucas Oil Stadium.
It would be wrong to say Bridgewater didn't do anything right during the extended weekend in Indianapolis.
He measured in at 6'2" and 214 pounds, showing he has plenty of height and that he's capable of putting on weight. He also showed explosion by jumping 113 inches in the vertical and quickness by running the 20-yard shuttle in 4.20 seconds.
Unfortunately, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported that Bridgewater was "aloof" during team interviews and rubbed many people the wrong way by flip-flopping on the 40-yard dash.
"No, I won't be throwing…I will be running, though," Bridgewater told reporters on Saturday. "I will run here at the combine...I'm a competitor...each day I go out there and I'm eager to learn—remain a student of the game—and I think that right there just separates me."
Then, on Sunday, the signal-caller mysteriously changed his mind. According to ESPN's Josina Anderson, one of his peers made a feisty statement afterward that sounds eerily similar to what Bridgewater had said the day before:
Just caught up with Tajh Boyd and asked him what he thought about Bridgewater not throwing/ running. "I thought we were here to compete."— Josina Anderson (@JosinaAnderson) February 23, 2014
Needless to say, during a weekend when both Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel shined brightly, Bridgewater's perceived draft stock took a hit. However, once the buzz dies down and scouts return to the game tape, all this negativity will disappear.
As pointed out by Michael Marot of the Associated Press (h/t Kentucky.com), there have been questions about his hand size and they measured in at 9.25 inches at the combine.
However, Marot points to the quarterback's consistent improvement over his career as a reason teams aren't likely worried. "Bridgewater's completion percentage and touchdown passes continued to steadily increase each of the past three seasons at the same time his interception totals declined," he writes.
From 2011 to 2013, Bridgewater's production steadily improved:
During his three seasons at Louisville, Bridgewater consistently displayed outstanding accuracy when operating from behind center in a traditional pro-style offense. This last aspect cannot be overvalued, as too many young signal-callers struggle to adapt to the pro game after running spread offenses from shotgun formations.
Many media reports have featured Bortles or Manziel as potential best fits for the Houston Texans at No. 1 overall. Conversely, many respected draft analysts still see Bridgewater as the top passer in this year's draft class because of his consistent improvement, excellent accuracy and smart decision-making.
Bleacher Report's Aaron Nagler is among the latter:
Teddy Bridgewater is clearly the best QB in this class. The rest is just noise.— Aaron Nagler (@Aaron_Nagler) February 26, 2014
The second highest grade I've given to a quarterback in the last decade, second only to Andrew Luck, Teddy Bridgewater is a sure-fire franchise player at the next level—or at least he should be.
Go through the last two years, and you'll see examples of this over and over again: Bridgewater making plays with his feet, Bridgewater making plays with his eyes, Bridgewater winning with his arm, etc. That's what he does, and it's why an NFL team should be drafting him No. 1 overall.
Which quarterback should be drafted first?
It remains to be seen what will happen at the top of the draft.
The Texans could easily decide to draft Jadeveon Clowney instead of any of the top quarterbacks and it won't be shocking in the least if Bortles and Manziel are both selected before Bridgewater.
With that said, the quarterback with the best tools to succeed in the NFL right now is clearly Bridgewater. Even better, if his past is any indication, he's only going to get better.
All combine results courtesy of NFL.com's results tracker.
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