There is only a week left to go. Only a week for teams to make up their mind who they want to take. Only a week left for people to argue about who their team should take before the picks start rolling in.
In this final week before the draft, no single player will be more discussed, argued about, speculated upon, praised and hammered than Teddy Bridgewater.
Teddy was almost the consensus #1 QB going into the pre-draft process, but since those innocent early days, we’ve seen the questions pile up until now it seems he’ll be lucky to go in the first round.
Most of the impetus for this adjustment in people’s perception of Teddy’s stock seems to have been his pro day workout, which in many people’s eyes was a sub-par or even terrible workout.
Since that day of struggle for Bridgewater, experts say they’ve gone back to the tape and found lots of stuff to be concerned about. Now there are questions about Teddy’s arm strength. There are questions about his frame. There are even questions about the thickness of his knees.
Some of these concerns look legit, others just look silly. But there’s so much stuff out there now, some possibly being disseminated on purpose by teams who want Bridgewater to slide, that it’s hard to even know what to think.
Perhaps now would be a good time to go back to basics on Bridgewater and just take a look at the stats. The value of stats of course is always debatable, especially college stats. But there are nevertheless some intriguing numbers on Bridgewater, numbers that maybe help dispel some of the fog and restore that clear picture people once had of Bridgewater as a solid top 10 quarterback.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN was kind enough to put these out there Thursday morning. In his piece, Seifert recaps the “narrative” on Bridgewater as a devalued prospect, then uses the stats to challenge the narrative.
The stats say this about Bridgewater: He is an accurate passer who is better at pushing the ball down the field than his detractors seem to think. He is also great against the blitz and fantastic in the red zone and on third down.
Bridgewater had a completion percentage of 71%, best among all QBs who were studied by ESPN Stats & Info. His average pass traveled 9.5 yards, a number that suggests he’s more than just an underneath passer.
His 71% completion percentage stayed exactly there, at 71%, against the blitz. He threw 15 TDs and one INT against the blitz, evidence that he’s great at pre-snap reads. His 53.5% completion percentage under pressure was second best among the QBs in the study. His TD-to-INT ratio in the red zone was 17-to-0. He converted 52.3% of his third down passes for first downs, the second highest percentage in the QB group.
As Seifert points out, these numbers stand as a pretty strong challenge to the narrative that has been generated by the media in recent months, the narrative that says Bridgewater is a bust waiting to happen.
Of course, we’re only citing positive stats here. You can always cherry pick stats to make your case. You can’t make your evaluation entirely on stats. The tape matters too.
There are things in the tape that concern some evaluators, and there are things Bridgewater showed in person that also bothered some people.
We do know that Norv Turner was among the few people who said positive things about Bridgewater after his pro day (though that could have just been Norv playing it close to the vest). We also know that the Vikings were intrigued enough by Bridgewater to have him in to Winter Park for several days, putting him through extra workouts in the process.
What did the Vikings look at in their workouts with Bridgewater? What mechanical things did Norv see? We don’t know. We have no idea what impression the Vikings came away with.
We do have compelling statistical evidence that Bridgewater is better than recent reports have painted him to be. These stats go fairly deep, and they show that Bridgewater at least stacks up well against the other QBs in the draft.
Based on these stats and everything else I’ve read, I don’t know how you can make a case for Johnny Manziel or Blake Bortles being markedly better than Bridgewater. You can make a case for none of the quarterbacks being worthy of a top 10 selection, and that’s legit, given all the talent available at the top of this draft.
But if you’re ranking Bortles and Manziel as top 10 QBs and not Bridgewater? I’m not sure I buy it. I’m even less sold on people like Mike Mayock who now, I think for the purpose of making headlines more than anything else, rank Bridgewater even below Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo.
What we have here is a case of runaway narrative. In these situations, counter-narrative is vitally important. The Bridgewater counter-narrative is that he was hyped up too much during the season and now everyone has over-adjusted.
In short, don’t be surprised if Bridgewater goes higher than people now are saying. Don’t be shocked if he comes off the board at 8 to Minnesota.
They’ll call it a reach if the Vikings take him at 8, but look at the stats and maybe it doesn’t look like a reach at all. Maybe it looks just right.