2014 NFL Draft: Making the case for Teddy Bridgewater to the Buccaneers

We start our series of draft articles making the case for a player to be selected with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers first pick by looking at Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are in a bit of a pickle in the 2014 NFL draft. They've managed to create some massive holes at wide receiver and offensive guard for themselves, but they'd like to draft the best player available with no regard for their needs. Making matters more complicated, we don't know who they see as the best player, and we know they want a quarterback at some point.

So what about Teddy Bridgewater? How would he fit the Buccaneers? Would he be a realistic option for the Buccaneers?

Why Bridgewater is a realistic option

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers want to add a quarterback in the draft, as they've noted so, so often since the offseason began. Despite signing Josh McCown, Lovie Smith is not ready to hang his long-term job prospects on the 35-year-old -- and the team is apparently not in love with Mike Glennon anymore. That means a quarterback -- and that means Teddy Bridgewater is in play.

Whether the Louisville quarterback will even be available for the Buccaneers is a different question, though. Most NFL-level leaks suggest that teams aren't nearly as high on him as draftniks are, but the pre-draft period is ruled by misinformation.

Why Bridgewater fits the Buccaneers

Jeff Tedford's offense, is all about structure getting speed in space, and getting the ball in the hands of playmakers. Of all the quarterbacks in the 2014 NFL draft, Bridgewater fits that kind of offense best. He has a quick delivery, is very accurate, displays the skills necessary to dissect NFL defenses and find the right playmakers to get the ball to, and he stays composed under pressure. No other NFL quarterback can say all of that.

In addition, Lovie Smith has talked about wanting mobility at quarterback: the ability to make plays outside the pocket, run for first downs and make something happen when plays break down. Bridgewater has the skillset to do that as well. And then there's the fact that the Bucs brought him in for a visit -- which means they at least have

More than that, Bridgewater could step in as an NFL starter immediately, and win. The Buccaneers aren't ready to throw their season down the drain because their quarterback can't (yet) handle the pro game. That's why they signed Josh McCown. But it's also proven near-impossible to keep high draft  picks on the bench in recent years, with Jake Locker being the only case in which that has happened in a rookie season.

The question is how concerning his limited physical frame and arm strength are to the Buccaneers, and the offense they want to run. If they want a strong-armed passer to take shots down the field (this seems unlikely based on my analysis of Tedford's history), Bridgewater won't be their guy. If that doesn't matter much, Bridgewater should be one of their top options.

Bridgewater is, effectively, the ultimate game manager at quarterback. If that's what the Bucs want -- if they want to win with an offense that more than anything won't hurt your team, then Teddy Bridgewater should be their quarterback.

What others said about him

Greg Cosell to Lance Zierlein :

"I think that [Bridgewater's] throwing skill set and his movement will remind some of Russell Wilson," Cosell said. "I think he throws the ball very well. I think he's got a very good feel. Now he's a guy who understands windows, understands timing, understands anticipation."

"He was asked to make decisions before the snap of the ball at the line of scrimmage and I thought that he did that extremely well."

"You would say he's got the arm strength to make all the necessary throws, but he doesn't have a gun. He's not an extreme talent where you go 'Wow, look at this kid throw the football.' But I think overall he's got very light feet, he sets up quickly. His delivery's compact, there's not a lot of moving parts, which is always good. He showed pocket movement. I think for the most part he was a very efficient player."

Greg Cosell to Ross Tucker:

"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."

Anonymous scouts to Bob McGinn:

"Louisville's success is because of Teddy Bridgewater," one scout said. "He's calm and composed, like you want in a quarterback. I'm not real crazy about his build. He has a linear build. I can't say he's a better scrambler than Russell Wilson, but he's not a statue, OK?" Ranked fifth in NCAA passer efficiency in 2013. Career completion mark of 68.4%. "I think you can win with him," another scout said. "He's not an elite talent but he's got a good enough arm, he's a good enough athlete and he's a leader. The big thing is his intangibles. He wins. He's clutch."

Anonymous scout to Peter Bukowski:

"I've seen a lot of Teddy. I don't have him in [Andrew] Luck's class as a prospect," one veteran NFC scout told SI.com.
"I don't see Bridgewater as a franchise savior like RGIII was in Washington ... Now if he went to the Houston Texans, which is a damn good team already, could he turn them around kind of like the Chiefs did this year? Yeah, he could."

Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson to Greg Bedard:

"That’s what I love about him the most, that’s the student aspect of it that I just love," Watson said. "Because when he’s covered, he goes to his checkdown. When he gets in trouble, there’s pressure, he goes to his checkdown. He doesn’t try to create something that can hurt a football team with forced throws. He’s the greatest manager in college football. There’s nobody better than him in college football. There’s a lot of great players out there, but he’s the best."

Matthew Fairburn's scouting report:

Bridgewater is our top-ranked quarterback and our No. 2 overall player. He's a potential franchise passer due to his mental makeup, advanced pocket presence, accuracy and anticipation when throwing the football. Those knocking Bridgewater as overrated are over-thinking things. In addition to his skills, he's proven to be tough as nails and doesn't get overwhelmed in big moments. Both of those traits will be important in the NFL.

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