I'm a happy person, again, because Greg Cosell has a weekly draft podcast with Ross Tucker. It's a must-listen if you want to get some great, tape-based information on the draft. In their first podcast, Tucker and Cosell talked about the quarterback class, and Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater specifically. So, I went through it and transcribed it, because that's the sort of person I am.
"Overall it's not a great [quarterback] class at all," Cosell said. "I think the reason it's being viewed as such, as a better class than it is, is because so many teams in the top, I believe, eight picks - I think there's five teams you can easily make an argument need a quarterback. It's being viewed as better than it is, but if you just look at the players - and again, I just came back from the combine and that was pretty much the consensus that well, this is not a great quarterback class by any means."
There was a weird conflict between Cosell's declarations, and his description of each quarterback. He believes Blake Bortles is more likely to be the best quarterback, and yet his actual description of Teddy Bridgewater seems to fit the "good NFL quarterback" moniker more.
Blake Bortles' potential
"The player that I would probably say with all the factors involved can be a good NFL quarterback is Blake Bortles," Cosell said. "And you start with the size; size is an attribute. I think at the combine he was over 6'4" and weighed over 230 lbs. He certainly has things he has to work on: lower body mechanics, he has footwork and balance issues in the pocket."
"I think he has a good arm, not a great arm, but I think it's probably stronger than you see on film because I think it will become stronger if he can correct those flawed lower body mechanics, because again, great example, he doesn't really drive the ball because of that. I think he does give you some read-option and option elements if that's something you're interested in. He's a big kid. There were examples where I watched him on tape where he was able to shed blocks and maintain his downfield focus and throw the ball. Those are important things as you project him to the NFL."
"I would say he's more of a finesse thrower than a true power thrower at this point, but I think there's a lot to work with with Bortles. I think ultimately he's a pocket passer who can execute boot action, he can extend plays and he can run effectively if that's what you want to do. So I think that he's someone I would look to as given time he could be a quality NFL starter."
Cosell thinks down the line, Bortles could be a good NFL quarterback. And yet, teams don't give quarterbacks time to develop these days. At least not time to sit: you can argue that actually playing accelerates development, of course. Still, that means you're likely to have struggles early on with Bortles at quarterback, and that's something every team will have to take into account.
Teddy Bridgewater's pro-readiness
"I like Bridgewater," Cosell said. "There's a great rhythm and tempo to his movement and overall play. He's a composed, comfortable kid. I think he does understand a lot of the subtleties of the position, how to manipulate safeties, how to move coverage. I think that his experience in a true pro-style offense has helped him tremendously. They asked him to do a lot at the line of scrimmage. He knows how to read fronts, he knows how to read coverage before the snap. I think he's got the instincts of a pocket player."
"He's not throwing a lot of bubble screens," Cosell said. "He's not making a lot of easy throws. He's running an NFL offense. He's got quick and light feet, he's accurate. I like Teddy Bridgewater."
None of this is new, of course. Bridgewater probably displays the greatest amount of development on film. The question is whether that is enough to be an NFL starter, given limited arm strength and size.
"The issue with Bridgewater is he's very slight, he's not a big body, he's got a good arm, not a great arm. Theoretically he can make every throw, but making every throw when you have clean pockets is different than making every throw when you don't. He doesn't really drive the ball, Bridgewater, he's a bit of a short-armer.
"He bulked up to 214 lbs for the combine. I've spoken to people that late in the year he weighed 188 lbs, so he probably bulked up just for the combine so the number would be good. So, you know, that's something you have to think about. He's not a big kid, he's a slight kid."
Cosell ended his Bridgewater description with one line that seemed to sum up his thoughts on the college quarterback. "The question is how much does he need around him to be an effective player."
So, it seems Cosell may view Bridgewater as more of a game manager at quarterback. Someone who will run the offense effectively and efficiently, but who may struggle if the pieces surrounding him are suboptimal. Meanwhile, Blake Bortles is a very talented player, but the question is whether he can harness that talent and turn into a quality NFL starter.