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There are many opinions when it comes to scouting quarterbacks. Just look at the 2011 draft where Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and Christian Ponder were first round selections and Andy Dalton was a second rounder. The entire 2011 class bridgewaterunderwhelmed, but at least the Bengal quarterback played average to better than average. While I am hopeful, the very same situation may occur with this draft. Despite his average looking effort at his pro day, Teddy Bridgewater remains his class’ best quarterback prospect in my eyes. I reviewed four of his 2013 games (Cincinnati, Miami, Central Florida, and Houston) to get a better feel for what he skills he can bring to the NFL.

Despite some reports to the contrary, Bridgewater is not a big quarterback (weighing below 200 lbs. towards the end of the season) and does not have the strongest of arms. The ball tends to flutter on him after throws of 45+ yards which highly affects his accuracy on deeper routes. He does have the arm strength and touch to complete the ball 30 yards falling backward though. The quarterback is highly accurate on short to intermediate throws and does a good job finding receivers in stride. Bridgewater usually places the ball where only his players can get to the ball on their outside shoulders. He doesn’t get a lot of air underneath the ball which makes it harder to catch the deeper his throw is. If the quarterback was able to get some air on the ball, his receivers would be able to catch the ball in stride and increase his deep ball effectiveness. His dart throws are effective within 25 yards, but after that range he needs to improve, otherwise the quarterback will be easier to defend.

Bridgewater is a very mobile quarterback that almost prefers to run bootlegs to both sides of the formation. He keeps looking up, scanning the gridiron, and is always looking to complete a pass before he looks to run. The quarterback seems to roll better to the right as he doesn’t have to throw the ball across his body that way. When he is running while throwing, Bridgewater does a good job squaring his shoulders and setting his feet. Bridgewater appears to enjoy cutting the field in half, putting pressure on the defense on whether he should run or not. He senses backside pressure well and isn’t afraid to throw the ball away if the play isn’t there. As a runner, he is willing to tuck and run, throws a few stiff-arms, uses a spin move or two, and always does a good job protecting himself and the ball. The quarterback is willing to do whatever he can to secure a win.

He does the little things that slow down defenders by using fake handoffs, and pump fakes. Bridgewater has a calmness and patience about him that most young signal callers don’t yet have. If a shotgun snap misses him, he steps quickly, picks up the ball, sets his feet, and throws with a quick motion. Panic doesn’t seem to enter his mind. It’s his good footwork and balance that makes him able to extend the play. When blitzers are collapsing the pocket, Bridgewater steps up in the pocket, lets the defense get closer, makes a quick decision and gets rid of the ball. He would rather eat the ball than throw an interception. I would call him the “anti-riverboat gambler”, because he takes what the defense gives him, instead of pressing his luck.

The quarterback is more accurate with his passes in the middle of the field. He can find the soft spot in a zone quickly. As the season progressed, Bridgewater’s touch on the ball improved. He steps into his passes and is willing to thread the needle throwing the ball between two defenders. Bridgewater sometimes leaves his receivers out to dry though, exposing them to a lot of contact. He is at his best facing pressure and that feeling is hard to duplicate on a pro day.

Bridgewater’s calmness and competitiveness is what separates him from Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles. You can’t be sure what Johnny Football will do under significant pressure or how Bortles will react with his limited experience against the NFL’s best. Sure, Teddy’s arm may not be as strong, but his throws will be on the money and he won’t take unwarranted chances. I’m going all in for Bridgewater in 2014!

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