Teddy Bridgewater burst onto the national stage in January when he led Louisville to an upset victory over the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl. People who had heard of Bridgewater’s prodigious talents finally got to see firsthand why he was named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year in 2012. He tore apart a nationally-ranked Gator defense for 266 yards passing and two scores in a 33-23 upset.
For the season, Bridgewater completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,718 yards and 27 touchdowns, while tossing only eight interceptions. Although the Cardinals did not play against the best competition in the Big East, he was able to silence any critics with his performance against the fifth-ranked Florida defense. Following that game, many draft experts projected Bridgewater to be the best quarterback in the class of 2014.
While some think it’s a forgone conclusion that South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will be the first pick, there is a chance that Bridgewater could be the perfect fit for a team in desperate need for a quarterback.
Here’s a look at Bridgewater’s strengths and weaknesses and he heads into his junior season at Louisville.
- Has ideal QB height at 6-foot-3.
- Has played in a pro-style offense, as well as out of the shotgun at Louisville.
- Very high completion percentage thanks to plus accuracy.
- Has a nice presence in the pocket, using subtle movements to stay alive.
- Keeps eyes downfield while avoiding the rush.
- Took a number of shots, but showed the toughness to hang in the pocket time and again.
- Does a nice job of avoiding big hits when he takes off and runs, protects himself well.
- Works through his progressions well, doesn’t lock onto his primary receiver.
- Possesses tremendous arm talent, can make all the throws.
- Throws the ball well on the move.
- Really smooth, quick release.
- Shows solid anticipation and timing on intermediate throws.
- Shows nice touch on throwing the deep ball.
- Has shown smooth and efficient drops from under center.
- Only threw eight interceptions in 2012.
- Although he’s more of a pocket passer, he’s a good enough athlete to make plays with his feet.
- By all accounts, a great leader.
- Is listed at 220 pounds, but could use a little more bulk to prevent injuries.
- Hasn’t played against the best competition consistently.
- Has had durability issues, battling an ankle injury for part of his sophomore year.
- Sometimes rushes his ball fakes, preventing the defense from biting.
- As a result of him dropping his back shoulder, when he misses, he tends to miss high.
- Played behind a sub-par offensive line, so he struggled against the blitz at times.
With Bridgewater leading the way, Louisville is the heavy favorite to win the first ever AAC championship. In fact, there are some analysts who think Louisville could run the table and end up playing in the national championship game.
And with good reason.
Louisville is absolutely loaded on offense, bringing back several of Bridgewater’s favorite targets. He’ll have three of his top four receivers back (DeVante Parker, Eli Rogers and Damian Copeland), and will add three transfers (Gerald Christian, Robert Clark and Matt Milton) to the mix. With two running backs returning as well, Bridgewater will be surrounded by as good of a supporting cast as any quarterback in the country.
Bridgewater should put up impressive numbers once again and could be in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation in December. He’s undoubtedly one of the best players in the country, and if things fall right, could be the first player selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
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B.L. is a college football writer for Rant Sports and can be followed on Twitter @coachlip.