MINNEAPOLIS -- We're continuing our look at the Vikings' quarterback options this afternoon, with a look at the curious case of Teddy Bridgewater.
Last December, when the Vikings were still in the running for the No. 1 overall pick, there were plenty of fans in Minnesota hoping the team would end up with Bridgewater, who was widely regarded at that point as the best quarterback in the upcoming draft. Then came a subpar pro day (in the opinions of many observers), consternation about why he decided to throw without a glove, reports of more bad workouts and copious revisions to the generally accepted assessment principles that happen during the lead-up to every draft, and Bridgewater is now seen as a late first-round prospect at best. If he winds up in Minnesota, it could be as the Vikings' second selection in the draft, not their first.
So what are we to think of Bridgewater heading into the draft? Let's take a closer look at the Louisville quarterback, with the help of our two experts -- ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick (the former pro personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles) and ESPN NFL scout Matt Williamson (who used to scout college and pro players for the Cleveland Browns):
2013 stats: 71.0 completion percentage, 3,970 yards, 31 touchdowns, four interceptions.
NFL combine measurements: 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, 33-inch arm length, 9 1/4-inch hand span
Pros: It's tough to argue with how poised and accurate Bridgewater was during his career at Louisville, and heading into the NFL, he seems to have a strong command of how to run an offense. There has also been a bit of an edge to his recent public comments, and pre-draft scrutiny could be an effective fuel for him, as it was for Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. "I think he's the best of the group, in a vacuum," Williamson said. "I really think he's got a lot of Drew Brees in him. He's a plus athlete, but he's a thrower first, of course. He's highly accurate." A team placing a high emphasis on college results would have a hard time looking past Bridgewater.
Cons: There have been several common knocks on Bridgewater before the draft, his arm strength being the most common one. That could be a concern as the Vikings play the next two seasons outdoors, and would remain an issue for Minnesota in coming years as the team still plays late-season road games in Chicago and Green Bay. Williamson also was concerned about whether Bridgewater could hold up to the rigors of the NFL at his weight, and Riddick said Bridgewater was overthinking when he decided to throw without a glove at his pro day. "You wind up trying to chase ghosts," Riddick said. "You start worrying about things you don't need to worry about, because you're trying to anticipate what everybody is going to be worried about, and maybe they weren't even thinking about it. Just do what got you there."
Bottom line: Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner -- at least in his public comments -- didn't seem as worried about Bridgewater's pro day as others might have been, and the Louisville quarterback could be a steal for some team if he ends up at the bottom of the first round. In an offensive system like the Vikings will play under Turner, though, it seems like there would be more ideal fits for Minnesota than Bridgewater. "I don't think a lot of his notoriety during the season was driven by NFL evaluators," Riddick said. "He is a good player, but a lot of the things that people are worried about with him now, have been things that have been worrying the NFL all along. Personally, a lot of the things you saw in his private workout, as far as him being very accurate on short-to-intermediate (throws) inside the numbers, but struggling on intermediate-to-deep (balls) outside the numbers are the same things I saw on film. I don't know if that's a good fit for Norv's offense."