It took longer than initially expected when this process began, but quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found a home when the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the first round to select the Louisville star with the 32nd pick.
Bridgewater has a lot of pressure on his right arm now, as well as the hope that comes with being a rookie at that position. The team made their new quarterback feel right at home with a warm welcome on Twitter.
Now, even though everyone in Vikings land feels good about the addition of Bridgewater—especially after the lukewarm reaction to selecting talented, but raw, edge-rusher Anthony Barr—it's time to start looking to what happens on the field.
No quarterback taken in the first round—Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel—had to answer more questions following their pro day than the 21-year-old signal caller from Louisville.
Even the Vikings had their doubts about him, but Tom Pelissero of USA Today reported that his workouts afterward swayed them.
Minnesota Vikings' brain trust wasn't exactly blown away by Teddy Bridgewater's pro day throwing session March 17 at Louisville.
But team officials saw a different guy weeks later at a private throwing session, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Thursday night, shortly after the team traded back into the final slot in the NFL draft's first round and took Bridgewater 32nd overall.
"Totally different," Spielman said. "And then to see him respond to the way Norv (Turner, the Vikings' offensive coordinator) and Scott (Turner, the quarterbacks coach) were coaching him during that workout was remarkable."
If the guy everyone saw at the pro day was just a mirage, Bridgewater will turn into a bargain as the No. 32 pick.
Andew "McLovin" Perloff from Sports Illustrated was in the interview room following the selection of Bridgewater and provided some insight into the already-working relationship between him and offensive coordinator Norv Turner.
Teddy Bridgewater says he has been developing a relationship with Norv Turner and is confident he will get used to the system quickly.— Andrew Perloff (@andrewperloff) May 9, 2014
That's going to be a critical relationship to watch develop because Turner's style doesn't seem to fit what Bridgewater does best.
Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com actually ran through a list of five things to know about Turner's offense after he was hired by the team. Here is the one that pertains exclusively to the quarterback position:
Turner’s offenses have been both productive and efficient in throwing the ball, which has yielded impressive yards per passing attempt numbers. With Turner calling the shots in San Diego, the Chargers were never below 6.42 yards per attempt and in fact ranked No. 1 in the category three times during his tenure (8.39 in 2008, 8.68 in 2009, 8.72 in 2010). The Vikings have ranked in the top 10 just once since 2007 and last year ranked 23rd at 6.68 yards per attempt.
There are two keys to having a high yards-per-attempt average: accuracy and wide receivers who can separate.
Turner likes to open the playbook and throw the ball downfield. Bridgewater showed incredible accuracy by completion percentage at Louisville, as you can see in the table below:
Unfortunately that doesn't tell the whole story. NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said in a conference call with reporters on May 1, via NFLLabor.com, that there were concerns about Bridgewater's arm and pocket awareness: "I am questioning arm strength, I am questioning accuracy. I watched him take three sacks consecutively against I think it was the University of South Florida. His stats were outstanding in that game. He threw the ball well, but he took three sacks I couldn't stand."
Now Bridgewater is going to a situation in Minnesota where he will have to stand in the pocket to let Turner's plays develop down the field. The good news is the Vikings offensive line was one of the best in football last year, ranking sixth overall and seventh in pass protection, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Who will be the best QB taken in the first round?
The receivers Bridgewater will be throwing to are an intriguing group, but again it comes down to how well they fit Turner's style. Greg Jennings is 30 years old, lacks explosiveness down the field and is 6'0", 195 pounds.
Second-year player Cordarrelle Patterson is the guy to watch. He's a dynamic return guy, averaging 32.3 yards per kick return last year with two touchdowns, but he has work to do as a wide receiver. There's a reason despite that speed the 23-year-old averaged just 10.4 yards per catch.
Another big problem for Bridgewater, which ESPN's Trey Wingo noted on Twitter, is where the Vikings will be playing for the next two years.
Happy for that kid.. but make sure you wear the gloves outside for the next two years @teddyb_h2o— trey wingo (@wingoz) May 9, 2014
The Vikings will be playing at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, which is outdoors in the frigid weather environment, before their new home opens in 2016.
In an ideal world, Bridgewater would have gone to a team that plays in a dome or a warm-weather city to take advantage of his best attributes and hiding the deficiencies (arm strength, erratic accuracy).
The Vikings do have the playmakers to help him succeed right away, including some guy named Adrian Peterson, but there is going to be a long development process, so don't expect a Cam Newton- or Andrew Luck-type of debut season.
Final Prediction: 14 G, 57% completion, 2,500 yards, 13 TD, 15 INT
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