Teddy Bridgewater | Quarterback | Louisville | Junior | 6'3, 218 pounds
2012 Stats: 68.5 completion percentage, 3,718 yards, 27 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, 1 rushing touchdown
Teddy Bridgewater enters his junior season as the consensus top quarterback prospect eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Having started all 26 games in his two seasons at Louisville, Bridgewater has provided plenty of highlight reel plays for college football fans and displayed the traits that have draftniks gushing over his NFL potential.
Against Rutgers, Bridgewater fought through an ankle injury to lead his team to the Big East Championship, proving his toughness. A month later, Bridgewater helped the Cardinals shock the Gators at the Sugar Bowl, showing off his mobility and arm strength.
After an underwhelming quarterback draft class in 2013, Bridgewater is carrying the torch for what looks like a much stronger group in 2014. If he continues to perform at his current pace, Jadeveon Clowney might not be able to coast to the No. 1 overall pick next spring.
What he does well
Bridgewater is built to play quarterback. At 6-feet-3-inches tall and 218 pounds, Bridgewater could stand to put on a bit of weight, but his frame is adequate for the NFL game. Playing behind a suspect offensive line last season at Louisville, Bridgewater not only proved he could take punishment, but he showed a presence and awareness in the pocket that NFL scouts will fall in love with. A smooth athlete, Bridgewater excels at escaping pressure while keeping his eyes down field and going through his reads. Often times, mobile quarterbacks like Bridgewater will drop their eyes too quickly and look to run at the first sign of pressure. But Bridgewater stays composed, side steps the rush or steps up in the pocket while still looking to deliver the football down the field. He is also comfortable throwing the ball on the run and from different platforms.
While we're on the subject, Bridgewater's athleticism is outstanding. Not only is he fast for the position, but he knows how to run the football so as to not take a ton of punishment as a ball carrier. Bridgewater is not trigger happy when it comes to running the football, but he will take what the defense gives him if nobody is open down the field.
Taking the majority of his snaps from under center, Bridgewater's footwork is clean and he has a strong enough arm to make every throw. His delivery is smooth for the most part and seems effortless, much like Michael Vick in his early years. We'll touch on Bridgewater's release more in a bit.
For the most part, he delivers the ball with accuracy and anticipation, two qualities that are vital for a quarterback in the NFL. He can deliver a strike to his receiver but isn't afraid to throw his receivers open if need be. Bridgewater has also shown an ability to read and manipulate defenses. He goes through multiple reads and is willing to hang tough in the pocket while going through his progressions. Rarely does Bridgewater stare down his receivers.
It's worth mentioning that, by all reports, Bridgewater is a charismatic leader and positive presence in the locker room. He recently came out and said he doesn't want a personal Heisman campaign because he is more focused on team goals.
What he needs to improve on
Bridgewater's durability may be a concern for some. He has suffered through ankle and wrist injuries already in his time at Louisville. While he has shown more than enough toughness to gut through the injuries, NFL teams will probably hope to see him get through his junior season injury free.
As far as technique is concerned, Bridgewater tends to throw some passes high of his intended target. While that occurred in the Rutgers game because of his ankle, it also came up on a few other occasions. He has a tendency to push or aim the football instead of throwing it over the top, and that causes some of his passes to go a bit high. His throwing motion is generally smooth and he has a quick release, but developing consistency in this area would be a nice way to round out his game.
Bridgewater has a real chance to be the first player taken in next year's draft should he decide to declare. All of the talk is surrounding Clowney, but if a quarterback needy team holds the first pick, Bridgewater could be tough to pass up. Of course, the Louisville passer will need to continue to show progress and shred the team's relatively easy 2013 schedule to stay atop the quarterback rankings. Clemson's Tajh Boyd and San Jose State's David Fales will be nipping at his heels to start the year.
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