If the Minnesota Vikings find themselves in the market for a quarterback three years from now, then we'll know they made a mistake in drafting Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater with the final pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.
But based on Bridgewater's strengths and Minnesota's glaring need under center, the Vikings were both bold and smart to trade up to acquire the highly touted signal-caller, who was confident he would end up in Minnesota all along, per NFL.com's Kevin Patra:
"I was just able to establish relationships with Rick Spielman, the GM, coach (Norv) Turner, the offensive coordinator, and Scott (Turner), the quarterbacks coach...So I felt very comfortable that I was going to end up in Minnesota, someway, somehow."
With a player's NFL success ultimately determined by a variety of factors, it's simply too early to know whether Bridgewater will turn out to be what the Vikings hope he can become.
While Bridgewater has several weaknesses that clearly turned some teams off to him in the months and weeks leading up to Thursday's opening round, including his lack of arm strength, he possesses a handful of attributes that could potentially make him a steal in the years to come.
Former Super Bowl MVP and current NFL Network analyst Kurt Warner is one notable pundit who expects Bridgewater to make some noise in 2014:
"I would not be surprised at all if Teddy Bridgewater wins the battle and starts Day 1." - @kurt13warner— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 9, 2014
One of Bridgewater's biggest strengths is his ability to read coverages and anticipate what the defense is going to do. That exceptional mental makeup will give Bridgewater an edge at the next level, but he'll have to succeed physically on a consistent basis in order to have success.
From a physical standpoint, one of Bridgewater's greatest assets is his accuracy. His ball placement is impressive on those short to intermediate routes, and his ability to lead receivers also bodes well at the next level.
Another concern about Bridgewater is his slender frame. At 6'2", 214 pounds, many have questioned whether Bridgewater can withstand the punishment doled out on a weekly basis. Although his injury history isn't all that disconcerting, the lack of bulk is something that could possibly keep him from reaching his full potential.
Which strength gives Teddy Bridgewater the best shot at NFL success?
But while Bridgewater doesn't possess the prototypical build that scouts and coaches love, his poise in the pocket could perhaps erase those durability fears. Bridgewater's footwork is superb and allows him to change directions quickly in the pocket. Although he isn't an elusive scrambler when the play breaks down, Bridgewater is excellent at sensing where the pressure is coming from and avoiding it.
And while he may take sacks every now and then, Bridgewater's ball security during his time at Louisville is encouraging and is an asset that could keep him on the field even when he's struggling.
Sure, the concerns about Bridgewater are legitimate. But in a draft devoid of a franchise quarterback and in a year with so many franchises in the market for one, Bridgewater makes a lot of sense for the Vikings at No. 32 overall.
With Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel already off the board at that point, Bridgewater not only offered value but filled a massive need for the Vikings.
How his NFL career will pan out remains a mystery for now, but there's no denying that the Vikings successfully straddled the line between bold and wise with their selection of Bridgewater in Round 1.
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