The Minnesota Vikings did more than simply fill a pressing need with the 32nd overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. The NFC North hopefuls, led by general manager Rick Spielman, added an ideal complement to their offense in Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Bridgewater's ability to excel from the pocket makes him the perfect fit for an offense built around prolific running back Adrian Peterson, as pointed out by WHAS sports anchor Kent Spencer:
While the durability and arm strength concerns surrounding Bridgewater are legitimate, he's certainly deserving of the high praise he's received for his impressive ability to read coverage, his poise and his accuracy. Those attributes make him a worthy Round 1 selection and are unquestionably what led the Vikings to trade up for him on Thursday.
It remains to be seen whether Minnesota will sit Bridgewater for his rookie season while veteran Matt Cassel leads the offense in 2014. After selecting Bridgewater, Spielman stated that the coaching staff would make a decision on the starting quarterback when the appropriate time comes, per the Associated Press, via Vikings.com:
"There is no pressure on this kid to come in and play. We're very comfortable with Matt Cassel right now. We're very comfortable with Christian Ponder. He'll come in and compete and then the coaches will determine if he's even ready to play this year."
Either way, Vikings fans have to be excited about the possibility of Bridgewater taking advantage of play-action scenarios alongside Peterson.
Peterson's brilliance forces defenses to crowd the box and respect the run on each and every play. When combined with Bridgewater's sound footwork and outstanding accuracy from the pocket, the tandem project to be dangerous down the road.
Peterson is nearing age 30, the dreaded age for NFL running backs, but has been remarkably durable. He is averaging five yards per carry for his professional career and has rushed for 1,200-plus yards in six of his seven NFL seasons.
If the six-time Pro Bowl running back can continue to give defenses fits in the years to come, his presence will not only make life easier for Bridgewater, but also make him a more dangerous quarterback. Defenses that gear up to stop Peterson will leave themselves exposed on the back end for Bridgewater to exploit.
No, Bridgewater isn't the sturdy, mobile signal-caller that Blake Bortles is, and he's not the gifted playmaker Johnny Manziel is. However, his strengths lie in the pocket, where he has the chance to be incredibly effective in a Vikings offense predicated on Peterson.
Bridgewater is excellent at reading coverages and finding the soft spot in a defense. And with a weapon like Peterson at his disposal, the first-round selection will have an asset that will allow him to play to his strengths and maximize his potential.
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