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Is Bridgewater sliding, or is the media merely catching up with the teams?

Bridgewater AP

Someone asked me Wednesday to identify who has the most to gain on the first day of the draft.  At this point, that seems to be former Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, since he pretty much has nothing to lose at this point.

Regarded not long ago as a serious candidate to be the first overall pick in the draft, there’s now an increasing sense from some draft experts that Bridgewater may not even be selected in the first round.  Recently, Mike Mayock joined Mel Kiper as two of the premier draft experts who have raised real questions about whether Bridgewater ends up spending all of next Thursday night in the green room.

“First and foremost, you want to say the tape is most important,” Mayock said Wednesday on NFL Network, via NFL.com.  “We talk about that all the time, but at the quarterback position, you have to see the guy throw live.  We all know that [Bridgewater’s] Pro Day was below average for a top-level quarterback.  I talked to a lot of teams, and I’m hearing a heck of a lot more second-round grades than first-round grades.

“What I’m hearing is two things.  Number one, when we saw him throw live we didn’t see arm strength and didn’t see accuracy.  Number two, when you draft a quarterback in the first round you expect him to be the face of your franchise, you expect him to embrace the moment.  I think people had some concerns about whether or not this young man is ready to step up and be the face of a franchise.”

It’s possible that teams have reached the latter conclusion about Bridgewater after meeting with him via the pre-draft process.  Still, it’s hard to believe that a guy who emerged from his college career widely regarded as being at the top of the draft class has fallen so far.

In his annual, epic, pre-Combine conference call in February, Mayock said Bridgewater was the most game-ready quarterback of the incoming class.

“The reason I think he’s the quote most ready to play in an NFL style offense, he was in shotgun, his offense, they threw the ball short, intermediate and deep,” Mayock said, via the transcript of his conference call.  “He understands three-step, five-step [drop] and he reads more than just half a field.  You can put the tape in and watch him do things and say, yeah, that translates to the next level.  He’s not as much a wildcard as [Johnny] Manziel, and I think he’s more developed in his reads and throws than [Blake] Bortles.  So that’s why I say, I think he’s the most ready to play.  Whether or not he’s going to be there [for the Browns at No. 4], that depends what Houston and Jacksonville do.”

So what has happened in little more than two months?

It could be that, while the draft experts collectively agreed on Bridgewater as his college career ended, the teams had a different assessment all along, and now the media is catching up.  The dynamic unfolds every year, with a guy supposedly rising or falling late in the process when in reality it’s the media who’s finally figuring out what teams think of him.

But if a slide is coming, at least Bridgewater can brace himself for it.  Last year, the media (which had Geno Smith at the top of the draft) never fully caught up with Smith’s stock sliding all the way out of round one.

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19 Responses to “Is Bridgewater sliding, or is the media merely catching up with the teams?”
  1. nomoreseasontix says: May 1, 2014 7:46 AM

    He may not be a first round talent, due to the overall talent level this year, but he might be the best quarterback.
    It depends on how much one team likes him.

  2. whatjusthapped says: May 1, 2014 7:48 AM

    I seem to recall the same thing was said (most NFL ready QB of the draft) of Brian Brohm. Look how that turned out.

    Still, if he is the bust everybody thinks he might be, he wouldn’t make it out of the first round, hell, he will go in the top 10 as the Vikings are quite proficient at identifying Qb who are busts and taking them much higher than they should be drafted.

  3. wtfchiefs says: May 1, 2014 7:50 AM

    Or….
    Because everyone is bored stiff from such a long draft delay that it’s causing unreasonable crap to be manufactured daily on TV and print.

  4. iman62 says: May 1, 2014 7:51 AM

    I would still put Bridgewater above Geno Smith. Geno Smith was just one of the top qb in a pretty weak qb draft year. This years class looks a lot better. All it takes is one team to fall in love with Teddy.

  5. qdog112 says: May 1, 2014 7:52 AM

    Bridgewater and all other QBs who excel throughout college should be ready to slide once all the expert eyes of NFL scouts lock in.

    30+TDs and 4 Ints in actual games isn’t good enough over 3 years, but an hour in shorts and tees can seal a young man’s decent. It would be laughable, except that it happens every year and then you rollout all the examples where the experts were, just flat wrong.

    Basically, what draft experts are saying is, if you interview well and look good in shorts, you have a job. What does that do to the guys who have already showed what they can do on the field? They start at a disadvantage and slide, while inexplicably, others rise.

    It’s the flavor of the week syndrome. If Teddy is smart, he will not go to NY. Let the cameras scan an empty room for this glorified BEAUTY PAGEANT.

  6. hodag54501 says: May 1, 2014 8:07 AM

    Does it make you wonder which team will draft a very good quarterback at apparently a much lower draft position?
    If he drops to New England….

  7. Eutaw's Finest says: May 1, 2014 8:16 AM

    I’ve said since last year midway through the college football season that Bridgewater was over-hyped. The media hyped him based on his stats and size alone, which is taking the easy way out in grading prospects. I know people put all of their faith in advanced metrics these days, but we can’t count out the eyeball test- how does he look on the field? Is he comfortable in the pocket? Does he go through his progressions correctly and efficiently? Does he get caught staring down receivers? Does he have blind side awareness? And I think when you look at TB as a whole? He comes off as lazy in the pocket. He’s not aggressive. He does not have a strong arm. Most of his highlight reel consists of avoiding trouble, but lofting balls up there for his wideouts- that won’t fly in the NFL. His ability to escape the pocket is mediocre at best.

    So in my opinion? He’s not terrible. At all. He’s just not top tier QB material. He’ll likely end up starting at some point, but end up a serviceable back up sooner rather than later.

  8. bigredgoog says: May 1, 2014 8:20 AM

    “Face of the Franchise” required of QB? I am not a big believer in this. While it is a nice added bonus, being a great player is what people really want. Even “leadership” does not have to come from the QB. Teammates respect excellence, dedication and calm under pressure. Great QB’s can be the quietest guy on the team if they have the other three.

    Mayock and others miss that this is a team sport and the natural leader who can make others want to crash through brick walls may be the running back, a linebacker or the coach (Lombardi).

    Skipping Bridgewater or any QB because he was inaccurate at his Pro Day, that is fine, but dump the talk of “face of the franchise”. You invite trouble when you force that designation instead of simply seeing who is that person on the team.

  9. raiderufan says: May 1, 2014 8:38 AM

    Um…pocket presence and ability to make all progressions in a play are the top 2 things said about him almost unanimously.

    Over 3 seasons he’s seen his comp %, YPA, total yards and TD’s go up while his INT’s have gone down from 12 to 8 to 4.

    He’s got great feet, a VERY quick release and his actual play in games shows he’s quite accurate and has gotten consistently better in that part of his game(64.5%, 68.5% and 71%).

    I would kill for the Raiders to get Watkins or Evans @ 5 and Teddy in the late 1st or in a dream world sit still in the 2nd and get him.

  10. filthymcnasty1 says: May 1, 2014 8:39 AM

    I would love to see Bridgewater collapse in MN.

  11. jdbaker01 says: May 1, 2014 8:47 AM

    I am not anti-Bridgewater or pro-Bridgewater, he probably is no better or worse than the others, but Mayock’s comment of “when you draft a quarterback in the first round you expect him to be the face of your franchise, you expect him to embrace the moment” is stupid. What does it even mean to embrace the moment? How do you measure that?

  12. steveoluvraiders says: May 1, 2014 9:04 AM

    Bridgewater is the best QB in the draft period. Look at his numbers against the blitz. The guy is accurate and above all very smart. Peyton Manning doesn’t have the strongest arm and throws ducks sometimes but e knows where and how to get the ball to the right receiver. Bridgewater has been under more scrutiny then any other QB prospect. None of the scrutiny involves his game film. Game film is the most important tool in evaluating a prospect.

  13. pmuraus says: May 1, 2014 9:11 AM

    Teddy was highest rated QB at the end of the season. So what was left was the tape, combine, pro days and talks. What is the most important? The tape. He has the best tape. Small frame? Played through the injuries. Durable? He took some really nasty hits – broken jaw, banged up ankle. Pocket presence – check. Audibles at LOS – check. Checkdowns and WR progression – oh, yes. So why is he sliding. Blake The measurables Man, Johnny the Camo warrior and Derek The Preacher Carr are to go before him. Then again, I’m a Jaguars fan and would be happy with Mike Florio as our starting QB…

  14. chargrz says: May 1, 2014 9:18 AM

    It was the gloves fault that he could not throw at workouts everyone knows that. Ha!

  15. bubbasmithguy says: May 1, 2014 10:01 AM

    We should be hearing from Warren Moon very soon.

  16. thegreatgabbert says: May 1, 2014 11:44 AM

    Mayock is usually the last guy on the bandwagon. He’s running along behind it as fast as his legs will carry him. Reaching a hand up hoping someone will grab it and pull him aboard.

  17. smackers86 says: May 1, 2014 12:04 PM

    I still won’t believe any of this second-round talk until I see it. The tape is there. He is an elite prospect. I buy that some teams might be dumb enough to back off because of a bad pro day, but they can’t all be.

    What this boils down to is teams seeing a bad pro day as an opportunity to use smoke screens in an attempt to lower his value. Why not tell Mayock you have him graded as a second rounder? He isn’t going to print your name anyway.

    I would have been thrilled a couple months back if I thought he’d last until No. 4 for the Browns, and I’d still be thrilled to take him there. I’d love to think they could take Watkins at No. 4 and have Bridgewater fall to No. 26, but I’m not buying into it.

  18. harveyredman says: May 1, 2014 3:06 PM

    Yeah, makes perfect sense…

    3 years of tape, proven ability to go through progressions, keep eyes downfield and accurately deliver a ball is all meaningless compared to the very meaningful “throwing against air”.

    Hey, who wouldn’t rather have a big, burly QB who consistently throws off his back-foot and hangs long balls and only completes 50% of his passes over 10 yards?! Or a guy who doesn’t even have the patience for the first read and will have to learn how to read a defense for the first time in is life. Or a guy who plays his worst football in big games, and lacks pocket presence and doesn’t deliver under pressure – but ALL 3 had great pro-days throwing against the air!!! Hopefully then can talk the teams they play next year into a little 7 on 7 so they can repeat their pro-day performances during games.

    I really hope NFL GM’s are just a bit smarter than this… but I won’t be holding my breath.

  19. pftstory says: May 1, 2014 3:34 PM

    Until the “draft experts” actually are employed by teams and make real picks or the teams start stating with honesty “if the draft were today we would take so and so” no player ever actually has his draft stock fall or rise.

    It is people guessing what the teams think, nothing more.
    If you asked every team the day after the National Championship “who would you select #1?” each one of them would and should say “I have no freaking idea.” They should also have no freaking idea.

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