From potential No. 1 overall pick to being the last man to shake Roger Goodell's hand Thursday night. The 2014 NFL draft process wasn't what Teddy Bridgewater expected, but he'll take it. The Minnesota Vikings selected Bridgewater with the No. 32 overall selection, leapfrogging the quarterback-needy Texans in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks.
Minnesota sent its second-round pick (No. 40 overall) and a fourth-round selection (No. 108 overall) to the Super Bowl champs to land Bridgewater, per Sports Illustrated. This is the second straight season the Vikings and Seahawks agreed to a trade involving a first-round pick. Last year, Minnesota sent disgruntled wideout Percy Harvin out West in a blockbuster.
The Vikings are on the receiving end of the player this time around, and the impact could be nearly as profound. Bridgewater was considered by most the consensus top quarterback when he declared following his junior season at Louisville.
Expected to be in the conversation for Houston at No. 1, Bridgewater instead underwent a precipitous fall down draft boards. A weak pro day combined with less-than-ideal measurements to put Bridgewater behind Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and UCF's Blake Bortles on most boards. Bortles was taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 3 and Manziel No. 22 by the Cleveland Browns.
Vikings fans, contrary to what some TV analysts will tell you, Teddy Bridgewater is not a dual threat QB. He moves well, he’s not Manziel.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) May 9, 2014
The Vikings are betting on Bridgewater's football IQ and collegiate performance meaning more than a workout in shorts. Bridgwater's dropping stock has become something of a rallying cry for his proponents. Easily the most NFL-ready of the trio of quarterbacks taken Thursday night, Bridgwater has the ability to make pre-snap protection adjustments and understands how to work down his route tree.
At Louisville, Bridgewater played in a more complex offense than either Manziel or Bortles. He also made marked improvements in each of his three years as a starter, throwing for 3,970 yards and 31 touchdowns against four touchdowns last season. The Cardinals went 12-1 and went to the Russell Athletic Bowl.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Bridgewater said he hoped teams would move past the poor pro day and focus on his larger sample of work.
I couldn't work myself up about what happened at pro day, because I would be impeding my progress. I'm on a mission to be the best player that I can be. If I'm living in the past, then I'm just stopping myself from being the best player that I can be. So basically, what I did was embrace what happened at the pro day, flush it and move on.
Minnesota re-signed Matt Cassel to ostensibly serve as its starter, but Bridgewater could compete right away. Cassel threw for 1,807 yards and 11 touchdowns against nine interceptions in nine appearances last season. Football Outsiders' DVOA metric ranked him the 23rd-best quarterback in 2013.
At the very least, Bridgewater's presence could spell the end of Christian Ponder's time with the Vikings. Ponder was taken with the No. 12 overall pick three years ago but hasn't proven himself capable of leading an NFL offense. The Vikings declined to pick up their 2015 option on Ponder's contract earlier this month. It will be interesting to see if they attempt to recoup whatever is left of Ponder's value over the next couple days.
Either way, their days of banking on Ponder are over. Bridgewater should get every chance to win the job in camp and prove he's the franchise guy. Only time will tell if that's the case or if Bridgewater's dipping stock around the league was a harbinger of things to come.
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