Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: The Scouts Were Dead Wrong on Bridgewater

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterAugust 19, 2015

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1. Remembering how stupid the draft can be

Do you remember?

Do you remember when Teddy Bridgewater, now a growing star, once fell down draft boards? 

Do you remember when his critics said he was too small, despite standing at 6'2" and 214 pounds? His hands were supposedly too small. His decision not to throw at the combine hurt him, even though Johnny Manziel didn't. Or Derek Carr.

He was too quiet, which supposedly meant he couldn't be a leader. His pro day wasn't great. We heard about his skinny knees. Then came one of the most ridiculous things of all, one of the most outrageous things ever stated about a draft prospect. An anonymous scout said that Bridgewater might not be able to become the face of a franchise. That led to a brilliant retort from longtime Raiders team executive Amy Trask (via CBS Sports' Will Brinson). 

But his stock kept falling. And falling. And falling.

All the while, we got a glimpse of Bridgewater's composure and professionalism, what we see in droves now. Faced with so much criticism, Bridgewater never lost his cool. It was an indicator of what was to come.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 08:  Teddy Bridgewater of the Louisville Cardinals greets NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he was picked #32 overall by the Minnesota Vikings during the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall on May 8, 2014 in Ne
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All of this came flashing back as I was watching Bridgewater on the sideline of his second preseason game. He was standing next to a teammate, smiling. It was his second successful preseason effort, following what was a successful rookie season.

Not only is Bridgewater the face of a franchise, but one day—in a post-Brady, post-Peyton, post-Rodgers world—he could be one of the faces of the entire league.

I have great respect for people who have the brutal task of drafting players, and for the media who cover the draft. No one is better at the latter than Bleacher Report's own Matt Miller, who said at the time that Bridgewater would be a good quarterback. But that was hardly the consensus.

What Bridgewater is doing now—leading what looks like a potential Vikings resurgence on the field, and being a good dude off of it—is showing how ridiculous the draft can be. How wrong we all can be.

Remember, the Browns took Manziel before Bridgewater.

Now, here we are, a year later, hindsight being perfect and all. We know so much of what was said about Bridgewater would turn out to be false. In fact, it's possible the draft process has never been more wrong about a player.

This is not to say Bridgewater is Joe Montana. But, so far at least, his skinny knees haven't doomed him.

2. Winston and Mariota struggle

Jim Mone/Associated Press

Before Florida State, Oregon, Bucs or Titans fans get angry, let me say that I still believe Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will both be good. I think. I believe. Pretty sure. Hopefully.

What was positive for both players is they showed resilience after committing turnovers or struggling on drives. There's obviously great promise in both of them.

The games also showed how impossible it is to play quarterback at the NFL level. How impossibly, frustratingly hard it is. Remember how Mariota had no interceptions in training camp? He had one on the first series Friday against the Falcons. Remember how many times people like me wrote on how the Buccaneers were raving about Winston? In his opening six drives against the Vikings, he completed only two passes, threw a pick, fumbled a snap and was sacked twice.

Again, they both recovered well from those struggles. But what I think we're going to see for both is a really long season. The progress will not be swift, like it was for some other recent quarterbacks, like Russell Wilson. It will be more arduous. There will be the typical ups and downs, with more of the latter at first. Patience from the team and fans will be required. Lots of it.

3. Agholor might be Offensive Rookie of the Year

Michael Perez/Associated Press

I've been fascinated with Nelson Agholor since he was in college and a scout told me, prior to the draft, that he felt like Agholor would be an immediate factor in the NFL, particularly if he went to a competent head coach. Well, the latter has definitely happened.

The Eagles, and head coach Chip Kelly, picked Agholor 20th overall in the draft, and in his first preseason game, against Indianapolis, you saw that first-round potential. After his touchdown catch, he separated from his pursuers like they were jogging.

Kelly said after the game:

Yeah, I mean the one thing with Nelson is when he gets the ball in his hands, he's real explosive. So you're anticipating run after the catch with him. That's one of the things we knew about him because you can see it when you watched him play in college. He did that a ton in college. He was also a great returner in college, so you can see when he has the ball in his hands, he's a dynamic player and I think what you saw today is one of the reasons we drafted him so high.

To me—and I know it's premature, but what the hell—he is the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

4. Better throwing motion from Tebow, but...

Michael Perez/Associated Press

Tim Tebow's motion, once crooked and whack, now looks solid. It's clear the work he's put in on that part of his game has been worth it. That demands respect and acknowledgment. So, too, does what looked to be improved throwing accuracy.

That's the good part. The bad part is that his decision-making is still suspect. He still holds onto the football way too long, and he still takes bad sacks. That part of his game, perhaps the most important, hasn't greatly improved.

It's mixed for Tebow, but one thing that's clear is that his association with Kelly is making him better.

5. NFL player memoir will be vital in concussion discussion

Tony Tribble/Associated Press

Ben Utecht's story is a compelling one. As a Super Bowl winner with the Colts, and later a player for the Bengals, he sustained numerous concussions. He also questioned how the Bengals handled his concussions, but didn't speak out on the issue at the time. Now he is.

Utecht's memoir, to be released in the fall of 2016, is called Counting the Days Until My Mind Slips Away

One of the things he discusses in the book shows how difficult it was, and still is, for players to deal with the issue of brain trauma. He says, according to the Indianapolis Star's Dana Hunsinger Benbow, that the Bengals released him in 2009 after they argued he could have returned from a concussion suffered in training camp. Utecht said he was still suffering the effects. He filed a grievance and won.

Though Utecht says his memory is getting better through work with memory exercises, it still remains in shambles.

"There are a number of things that are no longer there," Utecht said. "There are more reality checks to some of the memories that I just can't find any more."

6. John Harbaugh wades into immigration battle

Nick Wass/Associated Press

It's not that John Harbaugh can't have an opinion on immigration. Of course he can. It's just that coaches almost never express political views for fear of offending either the locker room or fans. Not only did Harbaugh express some pretty controversial opinions, he volunteered them to reporters. He wasn't even asked about immigration. He was asked about the refs.

It was interesting to see, that's all. Most of the time, coaches won't even tell you who's injured, let alone publicly back Donald Trump's immigration views.

7. Nothing RG3 said was wrong

David Richard/Associated Press

Not a damn thing.

You may have heard that Robert Griffith III said he was best quarterback in football. First, there's nothing wrong with a player having confidence. Every player in the NFL thinks they're the best at their position. It's that confidence that allows them to be NFL players in the first place.

But look at the entirety of what he told ABC 7's Alex Parker. The full quote. It's actually pretty spot-on.

I don't feel like I have to come out here and show anybody anything or why I'm better than this guy or better than that guy. It's more about going out and affirming that for me, I go out and I play, I know I'm the best quarterback on this team. I feel like I'm the best quarterback in the league and I have to go out and show that. Any athlete at any level, if they concede to someone else, they're not a top competitor, they're not trying to be the best that they can be. There's guys in this league that have done way more than me. But, I still view myself as the best because that's what I work toward every single day.

That is perfectly said. Good for him.

8. An American Indian response

Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press

Washington team president Bruce Allen's stance on changing his team's name is pretty remarkable. And not in a good way. Asked whether the team "would consider changing its name if it proved a political barrier to building its next stadium in Washington or any location it chooses"—again: or any location it chooses—Allen's answer was simple, according to the Washington Post's Liz Clarke:


If D.C.—or Virginia, or Maryland—gave Washington a sweetheart stadium deal but said you must change your team name, the team would say no. Incredible.

I found this response from Joel Barkin, a spokesman for the Change the Mascot campaign—run by American Indian tribes and organizations that oppose the team's name—also to be pretty remarkable. In a good way.

The team and its leaders are so obsessed with clinging to a dictionary-defined racial slur that they are willing to abandon their hometown and local fans in order to continue degrading Native Americans.

Now that Bruce Allen has been relieved of day-to-day responsibilities as General Manager he must have a lot of free time on his hands to double down on this racist moniker and try to figure out what to do about Native Americans returning donations from the team. Unfortunately, Bruce Allen, team owner Dan Snyder and the Washington team fail to understand that you cannot buy acceptance of continued racism. The NFL, Commissioner Roger Goodell, and the other owners should immediately step forward now that the Washington team is publicly declaring its willingness to abandon Washington in order to retain its racial slur mascot.

9. Geno's jaw

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

If you are a medical geek like me, you will love this primer from MD Direct on the busted up jaw of Geno Smith. It's fantastic. Never knew so much went into a busted grill.

10. Deflategate may be far from over…sort of

Charles Krupa/Associated Press

So, let's play this Tom Brady-Roger Goodell legal battle out a bit.

First possible scenario: The NFL loses the current federal case. What happens? Goodell appeals to a higher court. That takes weeks.

In the meantime, under that scenario, Brady asks the court to play while appeal drones on. He's granted the right.

Brady plays, and the case takes weeks or months to decide. If he loses, his suspension would begin maybe in November or December. Or even later. Theoretically, the suspension could even start in 2016.

Second possible scenario: The NFL wins, and Brady appeals. Everything previously mentioned happens.

Third possible scenario: Brady loses and doesn't appeal. He misses the first four games.

Fourth possible scenario: Brady loses and doesn't appeal, but he does file a defamation suit against the NFL and Ted Wells.

There are other iterations, but the point being: Unless one side unexpectedly relents, in some form or another this case is going to keep moving forward for at least several months—maybe a lot longer.

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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