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Teddy’s Bridge to Minnesota

When rookie quarterbacks are drafted in the first round, there is immediate pressure and stress brought on to the young athletes.  There were four quarterbacks in this draft which people were curious to find out the fates of : Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles, David Carr and Teddy Bridgewater.  Each came with a nice college resume and each came with questions entering the pro level.  A lot of times a quarterback can just be born into the right or wrong situation.  For example when Ben Roethlisberger was drafted by the Steelers he was brought into a steady organization with veteran talent all around him.  Roethlisberger was able to grow into the starting position with a lot on his side already which contributed to early success.

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So the question is : Which of these four quarterbacks walks into the best situation for early success?  Johnny Manziel walks into a Cleveland franchise which has been dysfunctional for some time now; the Jaguars seem to be “all in” with Blake Bortles and even back up that notion by having a pretty impressive draft but the bottom line is – they’re the Jaguars ; and if one can call the Cleveland Browns a dysfunctional franchise, what do you call the Oakland Raiders who drafted Derek Carr ?  That leaves one quarterback out of the four winding up in the most envious position, Teddy Bridgewater in Minnesota.

For all that it’s worth, Bridgewater may have the most quarterback ready mind, out of all four.  He may not have the arm strength or athleticism like some of his peers, but he does have the quarterback I.Q. which can propel him to succeed at the NFL level.  On paper, the NFC North has three of the highest powered offenses in the NFL with Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit.  In order to win this division you need a quarterback who can not only put up the numbers, but also protect the ball.  Bridgewater’s first year at Louisville he posted a bleak touchdown to interception ratio of 14/12.  In his next two seasons he polished up his technique and took command of the offense putting up 27/8 in 2012 and 31/4 in 2013. In that 2013 season he finished with a completion percentage of 71.0 % while attempting 427 passes.  Those are numbers scouts love to see in what has now become a pass happy NFL league.

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Last season, the quarterback play for the Minnesota Vikings was a carousel of disappointment. This year the Vikings have a capable young candidate in Bridgewater who can start (and should start) right away – and they give him a plethora of weapons.  The first and most noticeable is of course, is running back Adrian Peterson.  Considering the Vikings will still use Peterson as a focal point of this offense, the pressure will not directly be on Bridgewater to carry each drive.  Peterson brings a lot of attention in the box so Bridgewater will have cleaner windows when throwing to wideouts, especially if he can execute play-action well.

They say a tight end is a young quarterback’s best friend and if that’s the case Bridgewater and Kyle Rudolf will become “BFF’s” real quick.  Rudolf is a great redzone target and has proved no matter who throws him the ball that he has the ability to be an overall  good pass catching tight end.

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When Andrew Luck was a rookie he had a veteran receiver in Reggie Wayne to help him through the maturation process.  Greg Jennings can be that for Andrew Luck.  Sure Jennings is now removed from his prime, but he is still a smart receiver who has a history of working with All Pro QBs.  While Greg Jennings is the veteran who has to help guide Bridgewater, it is no doubt the most explosive wideout on the roster is second year man Cordarrelle Patterson.  The Vikings because of either bad coaching or poor quarterback play – tapped into the talent of Patterson late last season.  He is a receiver on the verge of becoming a huge problem for defenses in the league – seeing him and Bridgewater grow and develop chemistry together is key to the future of the Vikings.

With these talents at the disposal of Bridgewater it is up to Bridgewater himself to make the most of this opportunity.  If Bridgewater is just above average the Vikings can compete with every team in this division.  Quarterbacks taken in the first round aren’t expected to be just above average though, so he’s got to be better than that in the long run.  Good thing for him, he’s in a good situation to start his NFL career.

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

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