Raiders Best Interest: Louisville vs. Miami (Bridgewater Edition)

Louisville vs. Miami

This was a tough game to go over because there was so much talent in this game. Teddy Bridgewater was obviously the top players, but overall there was a great deal of quality players to look over. A great deal of plays I had to watch more than once. My rewind and fast forward button got a lot of work tonight (as did my skip button with all the commercials and half time nonsense). It wasn't a competitive game, but that doesn't mean much when you're trying to figure out where individual players stand. Every play Bridgewater was involved in I watched at least twice, some plays I watched three times or more. Needless to say, I've been working on this for literally hours. I'm well over 4 hours in now; pretty sure I'm getting close to 5. Anyway, I know you're looking forward to who fell where so here we go.


Expected: This is what round the player is expected to be drafted.

Fit with the Raiders: Great Fit- We should actively look to pick up this player; Good Fit- Worth picking if no great fit players are available; Average Fit- If the conditions are right, worth giving a shot. Value has to be right because there is a decent possibility that they won't work out; Poor Fit- Only draft if this players is hands down the BPA and there's no other options available since there is a high probability they won't make the roster; Terrible Fit: Drafting this player would be a mistake as there's next to no chance they make the roster and would be a wasted pick.

Successful Draft Eligible Players

This section is for players going into the draft who had a bowl game worthy of mentioning. Expected UDFA's who make a great impression will be included. (For high profile players, footage from other games will also be taken into consideration).

1. Hakeem Smith- SS Louisville

He had an alright game with 3 open field tackles. One of them was a VERY good tackle that held Miami short on third down. It was a memorable stop. He also had a good pass broken up this game. He made no big errors so he did his job. He had 45 tackles on the year with 2 tackles for a loss (one of them a sack). He also had 3 interceptions and 5 passes broken up.

Expected: 6th round

Fit for the Raiders: Average fit. I didn't see a lot from him that particularly impressed me. He did his job. I don't know if it will translate at the NFL level but at a 6th round pick, I wouldn't mind the pick if it happened. My endorsement would be lukewarm at best though.

2. Calvin Pryor- FS Louisville

He had a good game. He had 6 tackles, and one QB hurry for good measure. He was a sure tackler and made a great one when he dodged a block and got an open field tackle on the RB that likely stopped a TD run. He had 75 tackles this year with 5.5 tackles for a loss, 3 interceptions, 4 passes broken up, 3 QB hurries, and two forced fumbles.

Expected: 3-4th round

Fit for the Raiders: Average fit. I don't really think he's a good fit for us given how high he is going to go. If he were better I could understand us taking him. If he fell to the 5th round I could understand us taking him. Given his current draft prospect and our level of immediate need at the position, it doesn't seem like a good fit.

3. Marcus Smith- DE Louisville

He had a great game on a couple of really key plays. He had 2 sacks in this game with a forced fumble coming on one. He blew right into the backfield and made a perfect swipe at the QB's throwing arm, not only getting the sack, but getting the fumble as well. Miami was within the 10 yard line all set to score when this play took place, so it was huge. He showed good hustle, he knew how to set the edge, and he frequently was involved in disrupting plays. On the year he had 42 tackles, 18.5 tackles for a loss with 14.5 of them sack (wow), plus 3 passes deflected, 12 QB hurries (double wow), and 4 forced fumbles. He is a true defensive end.

Expected: 2-3rd round

Fit for the Raiders: Good fit. If he's available by our 3rd round pick we would have to be stupid not to draft him. If Houston doesn't come back this is only more important. Not only is he a true defensive end but he is EXACTLY the kind of defensive end this team is looking for. To see him available in the third round, with our need for his skill set... well, if Reggie doesn't take him you might as well fire him on the spot.

4. Seantrel Henderson- OT Miami

He didn't have an amazing day but he didn't have a terrible day either. He showed good pass blocking and okay run blocking. Unfortunately, the rest of the offensive line looked terrible and he had no help.

Expected: 4-5th round

Fit for the Raiders: Poor fit. I just didn't feel like I saw enough from him to warrant a pick. He was good but not great. He never dominated his guy whether it was running or pass blocking. I'm not saying he doesn't belong in the NFL because Louisville proved to be an intense defense, but I don't think we have a spot for him on our roster.

5. DeVante Parker- WR Louisville

Sometimes a receiver gets undue praise because he's playing under a great QB. It's true he plays under a great QB, but Parker is every bit as good as they think he is and I would say more. He made some truly great catches this game. He also did an awesome job beating coverage often times. He made 9 catches for 142 yards and a TD. That's impressive alone, but that doesn't even tell the whole story. A couple times he missed the catch only because they were throws that Bridgewater couldn't quite pull off. He wasn't a huge producer through the season, but hey, I don't really care about that, I care about what I see. What I saw was a playmaker. He's 6'3" and 209 pounds. I think he's going to impress at the combine and will have a future in the NFL.

Expected: 4th round

Fit for the Raiders: Good/average fit. I don't think we need to draft a WR. Despite that, I have to fight the urge not to say we should draft him. He's in the 4th round probably due to his relatively low production. I think it might have something to do with how Bridgewater spreads the ball around. Regardless, I think he did a lot to prove he belongs in the NFL. If he has the NFL level speed to go with everything I saw, I think he could develop into a number one receiver. I haven't said that about very many receivers yet this year, especially not any in the 4th round.

6. Teddy Bridgewater- QB Louisville

Well, every play Bridgewater threw I watched multiple times. I looked for multiple different things. I scrutinized every throw in a way I haven't yet this bowl season (as this is the first big name QB I've gotten to look at in this series). Two things I've found. First, Teddy Bridgewater is certainly not perfect. Second, he is worth the first overall pick every much as they say he is. I'll start with my first statement to get that out of way. Look, no college player is expected to be perfect. Anybody who says they are is misleading you. He had a rough start with that safety, but some things you just can't control. The question we should ask is, "what are the flaws and how easy are they to correct?" Fortunately, all of Bridgewater's shortcomings are things that can be easily fixed. First is his drop back. It leaves something to be desired. He doesn't have the best of balance on his 5 step drop back and I've noticed that when he throws off of it, he tends to miss those throws, or at least come awfully close to missing. That is something that can definitely be improved on. His throwing technique at times has issues. He doesn't always follow through with his throws and I saw a couple incompletions that probably would have gotten there is he was more consistent in his throwing motion (Because most times he did it flawlessly). He doesn't have the best long ball, but few college QB's ever do. I think this will improve as his footwork improves and he starts to get that extra bit of power from his lower body.

Now onto the obvious; the reason why he is the obvious first overall pick. When this guy gets hot, he gets hot. He knows just what kind of touch to put on the ball. He throws a bullet when a bullet needs to be thrown and he can throw a pass with some air under it when the receiver needs time to get there. It's really a thing of beauty how he does that. While his accuracy isn't Drew Brees pin point, the fact he can execute these different passes as well as he does, as early on in his career as he is, that's really impressive. The way he looks off defenders is great for a college QB. One TD pass in this bowl game was a direct result of this. The throw wasn't perfect, and it definitely had some danger of being intercepted, his looking off the safety before he threw it is the reason it was a TD (that and his receiver made a terrific catch with a guy on his back). Bridgewater can definitely avoid a sack if he needs to, and make a throw on the run to boot. Bridgewater's best attribute in my opinion though might just be his great decision making ability. Is he error proof? No, of course not. Does he make significantly better decisions more often than most of his peers? Absolutely. He rarely makes a mistake in his decision of who to throw to and how. To me this is his greatest attribute because you just can't possibly teach it. Making split second decisions like that is something you don't learn. Bridgewater has that ability to make quick reads and make the correct decision, pick the correct type of pass, and with the correct type of touch. His execution might not always be perfect, but with that kind of mental talent, I find it very hard to foresee him not succeeding at the NFL level. Bridgewater has room to improve, but that's exactly what makes him so impressive to me. The fact that he can do all these things and still has so much room to improve (and that he is absolutely GOING to improve from here). I don't need to tell you his stats, you know his stats. They were phenomenal this game. Stats don't even matter in this case; he's the real deal, plain and simple.

Expected: 1st round (Positional number 1)

Fit for the Raiders: Perfect fit. He broke my key. He's exactly what this franchise needs. Like, more than anything we need a QB who can do exactly what he does, and has the talents that he has. He's not just a great fit for this team, he's a perfect fit. He's THE guy you want to draft. Anybody wants to make the argument to trade up, go ahead and make it; you won't find any argument here. I don't think this would be Reggie's style but... well maybe he needs a makeover. Make it his style.

Players Falling Short

This section is for players who are expected to be drafted who did not live up to their expectations during the bowl game. This is based on draft expectations. (Expected UDFA won't be included).

1. Denzel Perryman- ILB Miami

Perryman didn't do a whole lot to increase his draft value. He had 4 tackles in the game, and I didn't see him commit any egregious errors. He had 108 total tackles this year, just 5 tackles for a loss with 1.5 sacks, 3 passes broken up, 2 QB hurries and a fumble. He generally looks like the kind of guy who knows how to play his role.

Expected: 3rd round

Fit for the Raiders: Poor fit. I get why he is ranked where he is. He's a sure tackler, and he's not going to be a liability for whatever team picks him up. That's not the kind of guy we need to pick with our third round pick. I feel like the kind of role he is used to playing isn't what we are looking for.

2. Brandon Linder- OG Miami

He was bad. He didn't look like he knew what he was doing. He looked overwhelmed and gave up some really bad tackles, at least one sack that I saw for sure as well. Slow off the snap, poor footwork, he really was just tallying up strikes against himself.

Expected: 5-6th round

Fit for the Raiders: Terrible fit. I don't think he will make it in the NFL, plain and simple.

3. Stephen Morris- QB Miami

Stephen Morris showed just how much of a difference there is between Bridgewater and most other college QB's. He made a LOT of bad decisions. At one point he had three consecutive plays that were almost interceptions because of terrible decisions on who to pass to and when. He ended up with a 44% completion rate in the game with no TD's. By some stroke of luck he had no interceptions, though he threw plenty that should have been. I didn't like his throwing motion and he was wildly inconsistent. He made more bad throws than good, and given his completion rate, the stats agree.

Expected: 7th round

Fit for the Raiders: Terrible fit. QB's in the later rounds rarely pan out, and from what I saw, Morris doesn't stand a chance. Not trying to be harsh but sometimes reality simply is.

Future Considerations

This section is for players who aren't in the 2014 draft, but showed up in the bowl game to make an impact. As a result, they may warrant being looked at down the line to see if they really do have the skills necessary.

1. James Burgess- LB Sophomore Louisville

This guy can HIT. Twice he delivered hits that were absolutely devastating. It's hard to overstate just how big of a hitter he was. He had 5 tackles in the game, with two of them being for a loss. He had 72 tackles on the year, 9 for a loss with 1 of them a sack, 4 passes broken up, 1 QB hurry, and one forced fumble. His tackling skill was impressive and definitely caught my eye.

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