Teddy Bridgewater is falling down draft boards, and we're a little miffed. Bridgewater was the near-consensus top quarterback after the bowl season following an outstanding career at Louisville. On tape, there was plenty to like. Still is. Bridgewater was perhaps the most poised quarterback in college football last season. He made some ridiculously pretty passes and helped the Cardinals to big wins that testified to his leadership. Bridgewater is still SB Nation's No. 1 player at his position.
But intelligent people disagree. There are the Nolan Nawrocki and Merril Hoge types who are obligated to fill any void with a contrarian voice, of course. But then there's Mike Mayock, who has built a reputation as one of the most well-studied and earnest NFL Draft observers in his industry. He can speak to the talents of hundreds of draft prospects, and admits when he can't. Listening to him speak, it's clear he isn't interested in forming an opinion unless he knows it's substantiated. And he knows that Bridgewater is missing something.
With Bridgewater, I don't feel an 'it' factor. I see a really good kid. But I don't know if he's ready to be the guy. Because of that, I think he's going to need at least a year to get used to that environment. He needs a redshirt year, in other words. If you need a redshirt year, you're probably going to get drafted at a different level.
Mayock fielded questions from reporters on a conference call for two hours Thursday. He spoke confidently on everything from late-round deep threats to his favorite Canadian players. Only Bridgewater seemed to trip him up. Like a lot of people, Mayock loved Bridgewater's tape initially. The he attended a Louisville pro day that apparently went so poorly that it made him look at Bridgewater's tape "from a different prism."
I watched him take three sacks consecutively against I think it was the University of South Florida. His stats were outstanding in that game. He threw the ball well, but he took three sacks I couldn't stand.
It bothered me that he took those sacks. Did it bother me more because I was at his pro day? Maybe. I didn't think he was as athletic. He's a narrow-framed guy.
The pre-draft process has been a nightmare for Bridgewater. He didn't throw at the NFL Combine, and his hands measured at a measly 9 1/4". He isn't known for having an ebullient personality like, say, Johnny Manziel, and may not have interviewed well as a result. Then he had his pro day, where he reportedly struggled enough to make NFL scouts question his entire oeuvre.
Mayock admitted that he is "struggling internally" with the Bridgewater question as a coach's son who grew up believing that tape told a complete story. It makes sense that a man would be unsettled after being shocked out of an entire scouting philosophy. Mayock's comments about Bridgewater were bizarre. How could he be so caught up on three sacks in what he admits was an otherwise "outstanding" game against USF? Why does Bridgewater now need a "redshirt year" to get mentally ready for the NFL when just two months ago he was the most NFL-ready quarterback in this year's draft class because of how well he read defenses?
Mayock spoke like a shaken man. He said that Bridgewater is the only quarterback in the last 10 or 11 years whose pro day made him go back, look at tape and change his grade. It didn't seem like silly-season blustering. Mike Mayock is having an existential crisis and it's all Teddy Bridgewater's fault.
Somebody's missing the forest for the trees -- or, rather, the pro day for the tape -- or vice versa. Whatever the case, Mayock will have his peace soon enough.