After the Cleveland Browns reportedly paid $100,000 for a study to determine who would be the best quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft. The results concluded that Teddy Bridgewater should be the first signal-caller off the board.
Without a clear standout like Andrew Luck available, quarterback desperate teams are forced to gamble that a franchise player can be found in this draft. Johnny Manziel is considered too small with poor mechanics, Blake Bortles has accuracy and ball control issues and Derek Carr‘s strength of schedule leaves much to be desired. There are many question marks with this class, but for the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Browns, Minnesota Vikings and Tennessee Titans, these young quarterbacks are better than most current options for each team.
Bridgewater isn’t flashy like Manziel or the owner of a physical presence like 6-foot-5 Bortles, but he is a true competitor who showed improvement every year that he played. In his final season with the Louisville Cardinals, the young quarterback totaled 3,970 passing yards, 31 touchdown passes and four interceptions. While his completion percentage, yards per pass average and touchdown totals all went up from year to year, he threw four less interceptions from the previous year in each season that he played. Bridgewater may not have had as tough of a schedule as some of his SEC counterparts, but he led his team to a victory against the heavily favored Florida Gators in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
The former starter for Louisville does have his own issues as well. He bulked up for the Combine, but durability concerns are a knock on the 214-pound quarterback. Teams are also worried about how well Bridgewater can grip the ball because of his hand size, and a less than spectacular pro day has made the 21-year old quarterback fall out of favor with some organizations.
There is little detail to the exact science of the study the Browns commissioned, but it reportedly used advanced metrics and film review to reach a result. With years of quarterback turmoil, it makes perfect sense that Cleveland would use any resource possible to try and find a franchise field general. With two picks in the first round of the draft, I believe the Browns will pull the trigger with the fourth-overall pick on a quarterback. If you factor that the team still has Tom Brady‘s former backup Brian Hoyer and recently signed Vince Young, the organization can actually let a rookie develop, which will be a nice change for the Browns.
Even if the expensive study proves incorrect, the Browns could still do a lot worse than Bridgewater.