2014 NFL draft: S&BP staff take on Teddy Bridgewater

Andy Lyons

In part three of this series, we asked our staff writers whether they thought Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was worthy of the No. 5 pick for Oakland.

With Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney out of the way, today we turn our attention to Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Following the 2012 season, Bridgewater was probably considered the No. 1 quarterback in the 2014 draft and, apart from Clowney, the most likely player to be drafted first. The reason was, Bridgewater had just completed an 11-2 season that was capped off by a 33-23 victory over Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

Surprisingly enough, Bridgewater's numbers actually improved in 2013, throwing four more touchdowns, four less interceptions and over 250 more passing yards. So why has Bridgewater's stock seemingly dropped?

The reality is, his stock probably didn't drop as much as other players have risen up the draft boards — guys like Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles who weren't considered major prospects 12 months ago.

So, what do our writers think of Bridgewater? Is he the quarterback of the future in Oakland?

Jeff Spiegel (@jeffspiegel) —Draft him

Of all the players we'll do in this series, Bridgewater is probably the most polarizing for me. I'd say 51% of me says draft him and 49% of me is leaning towards going a different direction. So what tips the scales?

For me, it's the alternatives.

Of the three quarterbacks, Bridgewater is a clear No. 1 in my mind — my issue, however, is that I'm not sure any of the quarterbacks deserve to go No. 5. Personally, this decision comes down to which players went in the top four.

With a team in as bad of shape as the Raiders are, I have a problem justifying the selection of an offensive tackle with the fifth pick (especially if they re-sign Veldheer and with the drafting of Menelik Watson in the second round last season). So if I'm choosing between Bridgewater and an offensive lineman, I'm taking Teddy. For me, though, I'd rather draft a disruptive player on a defense or even an electric play maker on offense before drafting a quarterback just because I don't think this QB class is that strong.

But enough about that, let's talk Bridgewater. In looking at his splits, I did find a few things that impressed me, most notably, how he performed on third down and in close games.

In games that were within seven points or less, Bridgewater threw just one interception, while completing over 70% of his passes in 181 attempts. Likewise, he didn't throw a single interception in the red zone. On third down and less than seven yards to go, Bridgewater completed an astonishing 76% of passes with 11 touchdowns and no turnovers. In related news, Oakland finished 26th in third down conversions, gaining a first down just 35% of the time.

Not to spoil it, but I agree with what Levi says below — calling Bridgewater a hybrid of Russel Wilson and Alex Smith. If the Raiders got that, I think they'd be perfectly happy for the next six-to-eight years, and for me, that's what tips the scales slightly in favor of drafting Bridgewater.

Levi Damien (@LeviDamien) — Don't Draft him

There is no question about how impressive Bridgewater has been. I mean, over 70% completions? That's tremendous. He also has won some big games in college, most notably the 2012 Sugar Bowl over Florida. He has shown nice touch and timing on fades though most of his throws are short or intermediate ones. That is part of the reason why his completion rate is so high. He checks down quite a bit and goes with the safe play.

He has an odd release in which he almost flicks the ball. He does not have elite arm strength and some of that has to do with that release which doesn't allow for him to completely draw back and step into his throws and exert optimum force to get the ball down field. On the short and intermediate throws, his release is a great advantage because it's extremely quick which doesn't allow for the defense to react as well.

Though I think he could be a good NFL quarterback, I don't see Bridgewater as that proverbial franchise quarterback who can put the team on his back. I look at him and I see Alex Smith with some Russell Wilson qualities. Closer to Alex Smith. He has some speed and improvisational abilities reminiscent of Wilson but nowhere near on the same level. Yes, I am saying he is more of a game manager with the ability to make some plays with his legs.

Rdreamer (@raiderdamus) — Draft him

The Raiders have not drafted a good quarterback since 1968. In 1968 my father was eight years old. That quarterback, out of the University of Alabama, was the patron saint of the Raider Nation, Ken Stabler. Since then, the Raiders have had some decent signal-callers (Jeff Hostetler, Jim Plunkett, Jay Schroeder, Rich Gannon, etc) but they haven't drafted any of those players themselves. It's difficult for any team to have sustained success if they can't draft a good quarterback, and it's high time the Raiders did so.

Teddy Bridgewater grew up in Miami and wanted desperately to play for his hometown team, the Miami Hurricanes. Unfortunately for The U, they fired Randy Shannon — the coach who had been recruiting Bridgewater — and Teddy decided to go to Louisville instead. Much to Miami's chagrin, Bridgewater proved to be a vastly superior passer to the clown they were left with, Stephen Morris. Morris took a loaded Hurricanes team and lucked into an early top-10 ranking before tanking late. Bridgewater, on the other hand, took a talentless Louisville squad and led them to heights heretofore unseen for the program. After the 2012 season, the Cardinals played Florida in the Sugar Bowl and demolished them, despite the Gators having one of the country's best defenses that year.

Bridgewater has a big arm, is very mobile in the pocket (although, having played in a pro-style offense, he doesn't run by design very often) and can make all the throws into tight windows that you want to see out of a quarterback prospect. He is incredibly accurate and does not make mistakes, and last season at Louisville he had a TD/INT ratio of 31/4 — that's Nick Foles territory right there. Whenever Bridgewater steps onto the field, he is the best player out there and he plays like it. In his one defeat last season, he fell to Blake Bortles and Central Florida in an exciting, back and forth contest. Considering what UCF proceeded to do to Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, there's no shame in that.

I personally am sick of the Raiders sticking has-beens, never-weres and fat lazy bastards behind center and hoping for the best. I do not want an experiment, I do not want someone who we have to change the offense for. I want a guy who can stand in the pocket and make a damn throw when it matters, someone who looks good in practice and in the games and on the cover of Madden and Sports Illustrated. I want a superstar back there, and Bridgewater is going to be a superstar. He may not fall to No. 5, but if he does, the Raiders need to jump.

Marcus Allen Krause -- Draft him

Teddy Bridgewater has a lower ceiling than somebody like Johnny Manziel, but he comes in a lot closer to it. He is ready to come in and play as a rookie which is what would be expected of him if the Raiders draft him at number 5 overall.

Teddy has nice arm strength with solid pocket presence and a good mind for avoiding mistakes. Johnny Football is a gunslinger that will make mistakes that Teddy will avoid which is important for a rookie in the NFL. As far as making intelligent choices with where to throw there isn't a better QB in this draft.

Most impressive about Bridgewater is his ability to move up in the pocket and sensing pressure. He already has decent footwork which will only improve at the next level. I would still take the playmaker Manziel over him but I would not be upset with drafting Bridgewater if he is available.

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