There are many talented quarterbacks in the upcoming draft class, and quite a few are expected to hear their names called in the first round. There is one quarterback that sits atop almost every draft board, however, and that is Louisville Cardinals junior Teddy Bridgewater. The Minnesota Vikings currently have the No. 4 pick in the draft – through Week 14 – but are in great position to land the top quarterback prospect come May 8.
As it stands now, the Houston Texans are atop the draft board, followed by the St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) and Atlanta Falcons. The Rams and Falcons are both set at the quarterback position, meaning the Texans are the only threat at the moment to take Bridgewater before the Vikings are on the clock.
While the Texans are currently in control of the No. 1 spot, that could easily change over the next three games as they conceivably could beat two of their three remaining opponents. The first is the Indianapolis Colts, whom the Texans will face this coming Sunday. Although the Texans have lost 11-straight games, they lost to the Colts by just three points in their matchup earlier this season and have a defensive line that will make the Colts’ offense very one-dimensional.
The Texans’ Week 16 matchup is against the Denver Broncos, which is a presumed loss, but they will end the season against the 5-8 Tennessee Titans, whom they beat in overtime 13 weeks ago for their most recent victory.
Whether or not the Texans come out with a rejuvenated spirit this Sunday under Wade Phillips, they have a legitimate shot at finishing the season with another win or two on their resume, which in turn could bring them down in the draft order, and below a Minnesota team that ends the year against three tough opponents. The three teams the Vikings must end the season against are all likely playoff bound, the first of which is the Philadelphia Eagles, whom they play this coming weekend before traveling to Cincinnati, and then finish Week 17 at home against the Detroit Lions.
Even with Matt Cassel under center this Sunday, the Vikings are still a long-shot to beat the 8-5 Eagles, who have an offense that could easily score 40 points. The Cincinnati Bengals are 9-4 on the season and undefeated at home, meaning the Vikings will likely be leaving Paul Brown Stadium with their 11th loss of the season. Week 17 for the Vikings is a game that favors the pass-happy Lions, who threw for over 350 yards when these teams met in Week 1.
However, if the Vikings for some reason don’t end up with the No. 1 pick, they are still in front of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders, three teams who all will be looking at quarterbacks in 2014. This leaves the Texans as the biggest threat to draft Bridgewater, but I’m not too worried given the play of Case Keenum as of late.
Yes, Keenum was benched last week during the Texans’ loss to the Jaguars, but from watching film, it was obvious he excelled when given time in the pocket, especially when throwing the ball deep, and wasn’t all that bad overall considering their was pressure in his face almost every drop-back. I see Keenum as the starting quarterback for the Texans in 2014, meaning they won’t be targeting a quarterback in the first round.
To make it even more likely the Texans pass on Bridgewater, they are a team with many needs, most of which can be addressed by drafting a current top 10 prospect. Their offensive line play has been atrocious this season, meaning right tackle Jake Matthews, out of Texas A&M, could be the player they need most. They also could easily target Jadeveon Clowney, whom they could pair up with J.J. Watt and create one of the best pass rushing units in the league.
This opens up the possibility of Bridgewater falling to the Vikings on draft day, and unless something drastic happens between now and May, he’s simply too good of a talent to pass on. The Vikings and their fans have seen just how much incompetent quarterback play can hurt a team, and with Bridgewater under center, they’re a team which has the talent to make an immediate return to the playoffs.