It almost seems impossible.
When Teddy Bridgewater carved up Florida's defense in the Sugar Bowl as a true sophomore, nobody would have entertained the idea. When he continued to develop as a passer during his junior season, limiting interceptions and making every throw look easy, nobody thought twice. The times Bridgewater fought through injury or led Louisville to late-game comebacks didn't raise concern, either.
And yet, here we are, a few weeks away from the 2014 NFL Draft, and Teddy Bridgewater is falling down draft boards.
It's silly, really, when you break it down. The criticisms of Bridgewater seem so juvenile. He's not big enough, critics say, despite the fact that he's 6'2 and 214 pounds. His hands are too small, even though they measured in bigger at the NFL Scouting Combine than Colin Kaepernick's did. And every bit of Bridgewater's pre-draft process has been picked apart, down to his decision to not wear gloves while throwing at his pro day.
The pre-draft process can be a funny thing. For an underclassman like Bridgewater, it breaks down into three parts: the combine, the pro day and private workouts. So what went wrong for Bridgewater that has caused him to become the first prospect people bring up when discussing players who could be in for a long wait on draft night?
Let's start with the combine. Bridgewater decided not to throw, like Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr. He also didn't measure in as big as some might have hoped, though as mentioned above, his height and weight were far from terrible. And while Manziel and Blake Bortles were dominating the room with their big personalities, Bridgewater was seen as the quiet one, both with the media and teams. His reserved personality may have hurt him a bit.
Then at Louisville's pro day, Bridgewater didn't perform as well as some hoped. Some of Bridgewater's passes didn't have a ton of zip on them, and there was the glove thing. The same people who repeatedly point out that pro days don't matter knocked Bridgewater for a less-than-stellar showing.
Now we're into the private workout stage of the process, and the news hasn't been any different. Chris Mortensen of ESPN even said the workouts were going "shakily" for Bridgewater. Again, he is perceived as a player who is falling down draft boards and could even drop out of the first round entirely. His agent pushed back, telling Pro Football Talk that Bridgewater had one private workout, at that point, that went well.
How much of that is perception and how much is reality? Surely there are teams uncomfortable with Bridgewater's lack of ideal height, weight or hand size. Others may prefer a quarterback who is a bit more outwardly confident. Some may take issue with the actual problems with Bridgewater's game -- like his deep ball or the possibility that he may not have the developmental upside of the other two quarterbacks.
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Forget about what Bridgewater did on the field over the last three seasons, because the pre-draft process is eating him alive. He was never built for the pre-draft process. Bridgewater isn't the size-speed freak that some prospects are, and he doesn't blow anyone away with an interview.
But before we label Bridgewater a bust, let's remember that this same process of workouts and interviews has Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage shooting up mock drafts around the Internet. That's the same Tom Savage who bounced around to three different schools, showing the same mobility, accuracy and decision-making limitations at every stop. While Bridgewater read defenses like a seasoned pro and maneuvered the pocket with a natural feel for pressure, Savage looked like an NFL backup for most of his college career. What Savage does have is size and arm strength, two things that cause a quarterback to rise this time of year.
Meanwhile, a quarterback like Bridgewater, who has so many desirable traits for an NFL quarterback, has found a way to do the impossible. He's falling down draft boards months after taking his final snap in a real game. The best part is, nobody seems to have a good reason why.