Less than a week before the 2014 NFL Draft, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater from Louisville is in full-on damage control mode following what many draft experts are calling a disastrous performance at his Pro Day.
In a recent segment on ESPN, both Adam Schefter and Herm Edwards discussed some of the knocks on Bridgewater that popped up after his workout for scouts. And while both analysts still expect him to be selected somewhere inside the first 32 picks, we all know that once a kid starts dropping, there’s no telling how far he will fall before a team comes calling (remember Geno Smith’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day at last year’s draft?).
Like Schefter and Edwards, I think Bridgewater still is likely to be selected in the first round well ahead of the Broncos’ pick at the 31 spot. That said, if the negative buzz continues to build and he slides out of the first round, the Broncos might find themselves with an opportunity to call his name.
Obviously, the top priority in this year’s draft is getting better on the defensive side of the ball, and the quarterback position isn’t an area of immediate need for the team. But taking a QB somewhere in the draft isn’t out of the question. Barring any physical setbacks, Peyton Manning probably has at least another two years of high-level production left in his 38-year old arm. Brock Osweiler – the six-foot, eight-inch gun-slinging giant the Broncos drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft – still has a chance to emerge as the heir apparent to Manning, but I don’t think most Broncos fans are sold on him being the long-term solution after Manning rides off into the sunset. Zac Dysert, the third quarterback currently on the roster, broke Ben Roethlisberger’s record for total offense at the University of Miami (Ohio), but he didn’t sniff the field during his 2013 rookie campaign, so he remains a question mark at best.
Broncos fans know as well as anyone how hard it is to replace a Hall of Fame quarterback. Before Manning’s arrival, the list of players who were tapped to try to fill John Elway’s enormous shoes was a mile long, highlighted by names like Brian Griese, Gus Frerotte, Steve Beuerlein, Jake Plummer, Jay Cutler, Kyle Orton, and Tim Tebow. Some of those guys experienced short stretches of success, others became fan favorites (you’re my boy, Snake!), but none emerged as the next face of the franchise.
Which brings us back to Teddy Bridgewater. Here is a guy who, a few short months ago, was considered one of the top prospects at his position and a dead-solid lock to be selected in the first round. Having had the opportunity to watch several Louisville games last season, I always came away impressed with Bridgewater’s physical gifts and his ability to command an offense. He makes above average reads, has a big arm, and can use his feet to move the pocket or get out of trouble when bullets start flying. There are a lot of “sexy” options at QB in this year’s draft, but looking purely at on-field performance, I’m surprised Bridgewater isn’t garnering more positive coverage.
There’s no denying that the list of quarterbacks who were world-beaters in college but couldn’t make the transition to the NFL is long and illustrious, and there’s certainly a chance that, once the book is written on his pro career, Bridgewater could find his name added to that list.
But come round two, if the Broncos look up at the big board and Bridgewater is still available, I think they could do a lot worse than giving the kid a good, hard look to see if he might be the guy to compete for the job once Manning hangs up his pads.
What do you think? Should the Broncos consider drafting a third quarterback in three years? If so (and assuming he’s available in the second round or later), is Bridgewater worth the gamble?