Scouting Report: Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Welcome to Rotobahn 2014!
There were two players that I had in mind for this year’s first scouting report, and, in the end, I flipped a coin to decide. That’s how much we like the top two quarterbacks on our board. It’s a far cry from last year’s mediocre class. We’ll be back in a few days with another scouting report that will be very positive and you’ll find out who lost the flip. If you know Rotobahn and the way we think, you can probably guess.
Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater is one of the most exciting players we have ever scouted since we decided to start Rotobahn back in 2010. He is very close to the total package as far as quarterbacks go. I’m sure we’ll hear some things from critics over the next few months, because, let’s face it, criticism will get far more attention than praise this time of year, especially when it comes to players with Bridgewater’s high profile.
In fact, there was an article just a few days back that claimed several teams have less than a first round grade on him. We disagree in a big way.
Here are a few of the other, more specific criticisms we’ve heard so far.
- Size - He’s not as big as some of the classic quarterbacks like Roethlisberger, Newton, Luck and Peyton Manning. Manning, for example, is 6’5” and weighs 230 pounds. There are now rumors that Teddy may be as small as 6’1”. My eyes say that he’s at least an inch taller than that if not more, but we’ll see how big he is for sure in a few weeks at the Combine. And, even if he ends up in the small end of the speculated range, we’re still high on him.
- Running ability - I’d say this is a bogus claim, but I’ve already heard a few people say that he can’t run like (insert name of one of the so-called read-option quarterbacks.) In truth, Bridgewater has plus mobility for sure and it’s crazy to think that he’s in any way deficient in this area.
- He holds the ball too long - My first instinct on this one was to just say, in the words of Sherman Potter, mule fritters. What we see on film, indeed, is a player that will hold the ball some, but in the appropriate way. When he doesn’t feel pressure, he exhibits proper patience, keeps his eyes downfield and makes a whole lot of good throws.
When it comes to Teddy Bridgewater, we have few concerns outside of durability and we’d say that with almost any rookie passer. Durability is a trait that has to be proven for all quarterbacks at the next level, because the pocket in the NFL is a war zone.
Bridgewater does it all. He’s a plus prospect in every single on-field category, and, by most accounts, he’s a good kid off the field too. Here’s a breakdown of some of his key positive traits as we see them.
- Arm - He has more than enough arm. That much is clear, but there are more positives than mere arm strength. He exhibits great touch in the short and intermediate passing game and combines that touch with good feel and accuracy. The only exception would be on the deep ball, where he can still get better, and we suspect that he will. We really love the way this kid throws the ball. His release is outstanding and he’ll vary it based on the situation. When he needs to, he can do a lot with just a quick flick of the wrist.
- Eyes - For those who’ve been reading Rotobahn throughout the years, you know how big we are on vision. Bridgewater sees the field well and he reacts to pressure very well, so he’s got the peripheral vision you look for too. This kid has some Tom Brady in him in this regard and he’ll only be 21 when his rookie season begins.
- Focus and discipline - Bridgewater has been well coached, because his on-field instincts are far better than we are used to seeing from college juniors. Teddy always keeps his head in the play and if he ever panics, we haven’t seen it. He trusts the play and keeps his eyes downfield as well as any college quarterback we’ve scouted since Andrew Luck. His throwing mechanics are consistent, which is impressive for a kid with a long arm. His commitment to correct arm position is reminiscent of both Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Bridgewater is a classic quarterback and a coach’s dream based on what we’ve seen.
- Movement - We’ll put Bridgewater’s agility up against most any quarterback out there with caveats for RGIII, Cam Newton and Michael Vick. The thing about Teddy is that he uses his athleticism in a very efficient manner. He uses his strength and quickness to buy time for his receivers and for himself--keeping his focus downfield. He shakes off contact in the pocket very well and holds his base better than most quarterbacks we’ve seen. He’s selective about running, but he’s plenty effective once he pulls the ball down. It’s also worth noting that his footwork in the ground game is very good, especially for such a young player.
- Ball skills - You want play-action and the run to have identical looks. Teddy does this very well for a young quarterback and that indicates he could have a lot of success with a run-based offense. This is a quarterback that will make a lot of big plays no matter what style of offense he ends up being drafted into.
- Competitiveness - We haven’t seen any negatives here. He remains fundamentally sound even when his team can’t overpower their opponent, which should help him at the next level and as a rookie. He’s a tough kid and he puts in the work, which leads to confidence on game day and in the huddle. We see the signs of leadership that you look for in a quarterback.
Before I leave you with some footage, I’ll touch on a few key points for fantasy and for playing at the next level. For Bridgewater, this is key, because he projects as primarily a pocket passer albeit an very athletic and diverse one. It’s important that he is able to make the stick throws at the next level and process the game at NFL speed. While there are never any guarantees when it comes to making the jump, we see no red flags and a whole lot of positives. This kid has already shown, over and over, that he can and will put the ball into small windows, and he’ll do it on time without hesitation. He trusts what he sees and he trusts his arm.
In our view, Bridgewater is less of a projection than most. He makes “NFL plays” on film ... lots of them. Check some of them out right here....
It’s all there, even for a marginally trained pair of eyes. Now for the one big qualification ... location. While we have few doubts that this player will succeed, his fantasy success, especially in the near term, will have plenty to do with where he lands.
Obviously, if he ends up in either Houston or Cleveland, he could be a QB1 right out of the box, because of Josh Gordon in Cleveland and because of Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins in Houston.
Once he has a home, we’ll assess Teddy’s good fortune or lack thereof in our post-draft Dynasty Rankings and in our pre-season Rookie Reports. Get ready to draft this kid in all long term formats and in most redraft leagues as well.
This scouting report will be updated after the Combine.
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