No. 3 – Teddy Bridgewater (QB, 2014)
A first-rounder drafted in 2014 from the University of Louisville, Teddy Bridgewater makes the cut mainly due to the vibrancy a young, competent quarterback injects into an organization. Bridgewater, temporarily, was the injection.
Teddy was thrust into on-the-job training in September 2014 during a road game against the New Orleans Saints. He would subsequently start 28 games thereafter for the Vikings before a hellish injury put his career (and life, allegedly) in limbo.
In the midst of his rookie season, Bridgewater tossed his way to a .500 win percentage and did so with an offensive supporting cast that flagrantly lacked explosiveness. Most notably, Teddy engineered fourth-quarter comebacks on three occasions–the type that had been overtly lacking in the Vikings four previous seasons prior to his arrival.
Cumulatively, Bridgewater started 12 games en route to 2,919 passing yards, fourteen touchdowns, twelve interceptions, a sixty-four percent completion rate, and an 85.2 passer rating. These numbers do not epitomize a high-octane gunslinger because that’s not what Bridgewater is or was. What these numbers did do was propel the team to a directional shift for the future–one that aligned with the vision of a new head coach.