Although it is very early, I will make the case for the Houston Texans to take Teddy Bridgewater with the number one pick in the draft. I believe he is the QB prospect who has the easiest transition to the NFL.
Greg Bedard of the MMQB has a great writeup of why Bridgewater is a potential franchise QB in the NFL. In all of the articles I’ve read on Bridgewater, one thing that stands out is that he’s been groomed as a pro-style QB since high school.
When you watch Bridgewater play at Louisville, he oozes NFL QB. He plays under center, uses a lot of play-action, throws in the NFL route tree, etc. You don’t see the wide open spaces or WRs that are common when watching a Baylor or Oregon. Bridgewater has good WRs, but they’re not open solely based on scheme, spacing, or offensive pace.
In terms of adjustment to the NFL, I believe Bridgewater will have an easier time than Johnny Manziel. Taking snaps under center is a pretty big deal, as you saw this year with the Texans. Gary Kubiak and Rick Dennison had to really work to structure an offense around Case Keenum, who seemed far more comfortable in shotgun/pistol than under center. This, mind you, was after Keenum had a full year as a practice squad QB.
You always want to see consistent progression from a QB. Take a look at Bridgewater’s 3 seasons at Louisville. Everything improved across the board: Bridgewater threw for more TDs, with a higher completion percentage, even when throwing deeper down the field. That is a very good sign (in fairness, Manziel took a jump from 2012 to 2013 as well). Bridgewater was also able to cut down on the mistakes every season.
For more on Bridgewater, check out our interview with my friend Adam Lefkoe from WHAS in Louisville. I like everything I’ve heard about Bridgewater off the field. He will need to pack on some weight, and I do believe deep ball accuracy is a weakness, but there’s not a lot to dislike with him as a prospect.
Ultimately, the magic and upside of Johnny Manziel is something I am very intrigued by, but my early lean is Bill O’Brien and Rick Smith tabbing Teddy Bridgewater as their franchise quarterback.