Feb 23, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Louisville Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater runs the shuttle dash during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Last season some Viking fans wanted their team to lose games on purpose and improve their draft positioning, all with an eye toward selecting supposed slam dunk franchise quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
And now? The Tanking for Teddy campaign just seems short-sighted and farcical.
With two weeks to go until the draft, Teddy Bridgewater is not only no longer widely regarded as a top 10 prospect, he is now seen by many as not even worthy of a first round pick.
Count Mike Mayock among the draftniks who have climbed on board the Teddy Has Tanked bandwagon.
“I would say in general, tape is worth about 85 percent of an overall grade, and the rest of the process is set up for red flags, and to go back and watch more tape to try to confirm what you saw or didn’t see,” Mayock told NFL.com when explaining why he has downgraded Bridgewater on his board. “I saw about four of his tapes prior to the combine, and I really liked him. I thought he had a chance to be a franchise quarterback from what I saw on the tape…
“Except you’ve got to see the quarterbacks throw the ball live. I’ve never seen a top-level quarterback in the last 10 years have a bad pro day, until Teddy Bridgewater. He had no accuracy, the ball came out funny, the arm strength wasn’t there, and it made me question everything I saw on tape because this was live.
“I went back and watched a bunch more tape and compared him to the rest of the guys in the draft,” Mayock continued. “And like it or not, I’ve come to a conclusion — if I was a GM in the NFL, I would not take him in the first round of the draft.”
Few people question Bridgewater’s physical toughness or mental make-up, but many now question whether he can deliver the ball with consistent accuracy and zip in the NFL.
Greg Cosell is another expert who has put Bridgewater’s mechanics under the microscope and found them problematic.
“The issue, and it will be a defining one for many NFL coaches, is how Bridgewater threw the ball [on tape]. He was a short-armer without the needed ability to drive the ball. He was a soft-tosser who threw the ball effectively in the short to intermediate areas inside the numbers, but struggled to make the more difficult throws outside the numbers. And he did not throw the deep ball well at all. He had to put a lot of body into those throws; as a result, he struggled with trajectory and accuracy.
“Bridgewater’s throwing limitations were not a function of arm strength; they were more a result of his natural throwing motion. It was the reason many of his throws fell apart as they gained distance, and lost energy on the back end. Bridgewater doesn’t spin it very well; too many passes came out wobbly. If you don’t think that’s a concern for NFL coaches, then you are not watching the NFL.”
The Vikings have shown heavy interest in Bridgewater throughout the draft process, even having him in to Winter Park for an extended visit the week of their top 30 event.
It’s possible the extra look at Bridgewater was so Norv Turner could home in on those mechanical issues Cosell referred to, and decide for himself how much work Bridgewater will need to get right.
What did Norv decide during his extra sessions with the QB? Did he see a fixable issue or is Bridgewater now off the board?
Whatever the Vikings think of Bridgewater, it seems increasingly likely that they will have a chance to draft him lower than 8 if that’s what they want to do. They may even be able to wait and pick him up in the early second.