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Minnesota Vikings Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Teddy Bridgewater

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Minnesota Vikings Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Teddy Bridgewater
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The Minnesota Vikings currently sit with the No. 8 selection in this year's NFL draft, a position that has led to a slew of scenarios for the 5-10-1 team from a year ago.

With considerable needs on both sides of the football, the question remains whether general manager Rick Spielman will take another first-round crack at quarterback following the busted selection of Christian Ponder in 2011.

Not only that, based on moving projections from experts all across the country, there doesn't seem to be a consensus of even who will be available for the Vikings if they remain put at selecting eighth overall.

However, if a certain player remains on the board after seven NFL teams make their selection, Minnesota should seriously consider drafting its quarterback of the future.

That player is Teddy Bridgewater.

Rewind several months and Bridgewater was the talk of the upcoming draft, projected as a potential No. 1 pick, per Rob Rang of CBS Sports.

"Tank for Teddy" fans would say, pleading with their favorite football team to lose for the sake of grabbing the top position in the draft.

But all of that seems to have changed with the passing of the NFL Scouting Combine, an "average at best" pro day, according to NFL Network's Mike Mayock, dozens of mock drafts and—well—just time.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., for example, has Bridgewater falling to the second round in his latest mock draft, where previously the Louisville prospect was slotted fifth to the Oakland Raiders.

Uh...what?

Through all of that, though, nothing has changed for the Vikings. They still desperately need a quarterback to elevate a club that made the playoffs in 2012 behind a near record-setting performance by Adrian Peterson.

Despite the recent criticism, here's what analysts still have to say about Bridgewater's college performance. You know, when games were actually played.

According to CBS Sports:

Comes from a pro-style offense at Louisville, and was among the nation's leaders in all passing categories when facing blitzes. Naturally steps through his progressions, and keeps his eyes focused downfield with defenders closing in on him. Can manipulate the defense with his eyes.

Shows very good weight distribution and passing mechanics. Steps into the face of pressure and delivers, showing admirable toughness on each snap to bounce back after big hits.

Smooth mobility to extend and move the pocket with the quickness to pick up yards with his legs if needed. Impressive accuracy and touch on throws to all levels of the field, and displays good accuracy while on the move.

According to NFL.com:

Terrific competitor. Extremely driven to succeed. Well-prepared and confident in his approach. Operated a progression-read offense where he is asked to scan the whole field and help steer protections. Footwork is very clean and in rhythm -- throws on balance with sound mechanics, a fluid delivery and smooth stroke. Very good timing, touch and anticipation — throws receivers open. Is patient working through his reads and will step up in the pocket. Sells play-action hard and takes what the defense gives him. Poised in the face of the blitz and often anticipates it coming.

According to B/R's Matt Miller:

In the end, the Vikings should rub their eyes if Bridgewater is still available to them at the eighth selection. In what previously seemed preposterous, may now be a genuine possibility of the top quarterback prospect falling to Minnesota.

And although Spielman loves to get tricky on draft day by trading up, down or sideways—OK, that last one isn't real—he would be out-maneuvering himself by passing on Bridgewater.

Yes, the team needs defense. Yes, there are quality quarterbacks available in the second and third round. But don't let a trending flavor of the month and the fear of getting it wrong again in the first round dissuade an outstanding opportunity.

They simply don't come around that often for the Vikings.

 

Matthew Stensrud is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter and Google+

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