With the bizarre disconnect between the media’s pre-Combine love of Teddy Bridgewater to the pre-draft belief by some of the most plugged in draft experts that Bridgewater will slide out of round one entirely, we’ve decided to try to figure out what teams think of the guy.
And while the reality is that every team could have a vastly different view of a player, with some loving the player and others hating him (or 31 hating him and one loving him enough to make him a first-round pick), some scouts are concerned that Bridgewater may never become a starting quarterback in the NFL.
(I generally avoid sharing opinions from anonymous scouts before the draft because of the potential for bias and agenda affecting the scout’s opinion. The rule of thumb remains that scouts who love a guy will be inclined to knock him in the hopes of having the player fall to their team, and that scouts who hate a guy will be inclined to say good things about him, so that another team will waste a pick on the player. I’m making an exception in this case because: (1) the conflicting views on Bridgewater have become frustrating to the point of maddening; (2) I’m convinced that the scout who shared this information isn’t trying to grease the skids for Bridgewater to slide to his team; (3) the scout is sufficiently experienced and knowledgeable and proven in his work to make his views reliable; and (4) the biggest problem I have with the use of opinions from anonymous scouts is that reporters who share the information typically don’t provide this kind of background or disclaimer, making it impossible for the audience to even begin to assess the reliability of the information.)
With all that said (and if you’re still reading this, you get a free one-year subscription to PFT), the thinking is that Bridgewater has the will to become a great quarterback. He’ll work hard, and he’ll do everything that is asked of him. He’ll never create a single problem for the franchise, being a good teammate and a model citizen.
Physically, however, the thinking by some is that Bridgewater simply lacks the attributes necessary to make him one of the rare men who can be starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Bridgewater isn’t particularly big, he’s not particularly fast, his hands aren’t particularly large, and he doesn’t have a particularly strong arm in comparison to other starting quarterbacks.
He’s also viewed by some as a player who won’t take control of an offense. The young quarterbacks who have thrived right away have that trait; they take over immediately, and it’s undeniable that they deserve the job.
While there’s a perception that young quarterbacks who become starters immediately are in some way anointed by their teams, the blessing often comes not from the coaching staff or the front office but from the players, who won’t follow or respond to a quarterback in whom they don’t believe. With Bridgewater, there’s a concern that Bridgewater won’t take over in the way that he needs to take over.
So why did the teams and the draft experts have such a different view of Bridgewater? One reason could be that teams spend more time scouting seniors than underclassmen during the season, since it’s typically not known which of the underclassmen will be available in the draft. Every player has a ceiling at some point between college football and the Pro Football Hall of Fame; it seems that the draft experts’ assessment of Bridgewater’s ceiling has been much more favorable than the assessment that has occurred by the folks whose jobs depend on their ability to divine the potential of future NFL players.
Obviously, Bridgewater’s one and only open workout specifically for NFL scouts didn’t do much to convince teams that he’s ready to rise to the occasion and bust through the ceiling that would allow him to be an effective NFL starter. With so many future NFL quarterbacks — franchise players, busts, and all in between — consistently having stellar Pro Day workouts, Bridgewater’s was glaring, and it reinforced the opinions that some already had.
With two extra weeks to go until the draft and some owners showing a willingness to take advantage of that extra time to display more interest in the process, current questions like, “Explain to me why you’re interested in this guy again?” eventually could become, “Explain to my why you draft this guy again?”
Which eventually could become a decision by the owner to have someone else do the drafting. Which has resulted in the most plugged-in draft experts coming to the conclusion that Bridgewater has become destined to slide out of round one.