Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville (HT: 6’2⅛", WT: 214 lbs)
First Round: 32nd Pick
+ Accurate passer who shows anticipation and touch
+ Throws extremely well on the move
+ Excellent throwing mechanics
+ Smart player who makes the right decisions with the ball
+ Thrived in big games and pressure situations
- Average size. Wiry build, lacking growth potential
- Does not spin the cleanest ball
- Inconsistent deep accuracy
- Teams may feel he is not ready to command the locker room
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Precision Pocket Passing
Among this class’ most accurate quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater demonstrates anticipation and the ability to throw with touch. Although he tests traffic haphazardly on rare occasions, he is capable of placing the ball in a perfect spot to beat tight coverage. He may not have a rocket for an arm, but his pinpoint accuracy and adequate velocity help him to complete passes in tight windows. More so than his peers, he is able to put the ball where only his man can catch it.
On this 2nd-and-14 in the Cardinals' first game of the season, Bridgewater is given a clean pocket to work with. He is quick to get depth in his drop, then plant and throw. What is a very difficult throw for others he makes look easy, as he targets his receiver’s back shoulder on the goal-line. Due to the quick release and the location of the pass, this is virtually impossible to defend.
By nature, he is a pocket passer capable of throwing with excellent precision. His accuracy to the short-to-intermediate levels of the field is very good, and he should thrive in an NFL offense that emphasizes those quick, rhythm throws.
On the Move
Though a natural pocket passer, Bridgewater is also capable of beating opponents outside of the tackle box. After breaking the pocket, he displays the ability to throw accurately and with enough velocity on the move.
Surprisingly for a right-hander, he appears equally comfortable rolling to his left and right. He is able to accomplish this due to sound throwing mechanics, aligning his hips to his intended target and throwing with a smooth over-the-top delivery.
Again looking at the Ohio game, the first touchdown of Bridgewater’s junior season helps to illustrate his comfort on the move. A difficult play for many quarterbacks, Bridgewater rolls out to his left on the bootleg. As a Bobcats defensive end is closing in, he throws deep downfield across his body. This ball is thrown fairly accurately due to tremendous footwork and technique on his part.
That particular throw was made while moving to his left, but as I mentioned earlier he is equally proficient rolling right. His ability to roll out in either direction and throw strikes makes him a great fit for the play-action passing game.
He may not possess the speed or agility to be a dynamic scrambling quarterback, but Bridgewater demonstrates impressive functional mobility. Not only can he throw accurately while on the move, as highlighted in the previous section, but he can also use his feet to evade pass-rushers and pick up the occasional first down.
Generally speaking, he is efficient in his movement and makes the right decision on when to tuck the ball and run. Rarely is his first instinct to break the line of scrimmage, but when he takes off he displays adequate burst and elusiveness in the open field.
Mobility was not his only impressive quality on display when Cincinnati forced a critical 4th-and-12 in the fourth quarter of their December meeting. As a Bearcats linebacker shoots through the A-gap on a delayed blitz, Bridgewater steps up to avoid the rush. He is spun around by the defender but is quick to get his bearings and stiff-arms the would-be-tackler to escape the pocket.
As he crosses the line of scrimmage, he is followed closely in pursuit by another Cincinnati linebacker. He shows the presence of mind to change the ball to his outside hand, which allows him to both free his right arm and reduce the chance of a fumble. He uses that right arm to stiff-arm the defender and essentially carry him to the first-down marker.
Initially when I studied him, I credited Bridgewater for having excellent pocket presence. While I do still believe that it is more of a strength than a weakness for him, I noticed more inconsistency during my final look at his tape. His reaction time against pressure varied greatly, as he was proactive at times to avoid the rush but froze at others.
To properly show this variability, we will look at both the good and the bad.
Against South Florida in October, he took two particularly bad sacks on the same set of downs. On 1st-and-10, he looks downfield off of play action. After initially dropping back into zone coverage, the Bulls' middle linebacker arrives late on a delayed blitz. Bridgewater attempts to spin out to his left but his movement is easily telegraphed and he's dumped for a loss of 11.
Later in that series on 3rd-and-16, he again is fazed by pressure and reacts indecisively. The defense again disguises their blitz but only winds up rushing four. Though the Cardinals' protection appears to be adequate at first, the blitzing linebacker works his way free and flusters Bridgewater.
Of course, I promised I would also show the good.
Did I say good? What I meant to say was: absolutely incredible.
This 3rd-and-8 pass to give his team the lead in Cincinnati may have been the signature play of Bridgewater’s season. Only moments after willing his way to the first down on the 4th-and-12 highlighted earlier, he created some magic to give his team the lead.
The Bearcats bring seven defenders at a variety of intervals. This time, he spins away from the blitzing linebacker at the perfect moment and steps up into the pocket. While surrounded by black jerseys, he manages to locate his receiver and launches a pretty pass to the corner of the end zone.
Ultimately, his pocket habits were a bit of a mixed bag, with his spin move working both in his favor and against him at times. Due to his abilities to throw strikes from the pocket or roll out to make a play on the move, he would benefit from simply being more decisive.
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