Teddy Bridgewater moves past shaky pro day, calls himself a 'servant leader'
While it's possible some NFL teams moved Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater down their boards a bit because of his sub-par pro day Monday, it's also eminently probable we're making much ado about nothing when it comes to a staged throwing session that was less than impressive. Going without the glove he usually uses to throw, Bridgewater was erratic with his ball placement and gave those who discount him for whatever reason more ammunition.
But in this silly season of overcooked workout analysis, it's also good to remember that he's still the same player who threw for nearly 8,000 yards and 58 touchdowns to just 12 interceptions in his last two collegiate seasons. And if there are teams at the top of the draft willing to look past reams of tape in favor of one off-day... well, there are other NFL franchises who will gratefully take that alleged risk.
During a visit with the NFL Network on Friday morning, Bridgewater was clearly interested in moving past Monday's seeming debacle.
“I just pay no attention to it," he said of this week's noise. "Keep my head down, stay focused on what I have to work on. If something is being said in a negative way about me, I use it as growth, I learn from it. If it’s something being said positive about me, I still can learn from it. I’m just on a mission to be the best player that I can be, so I keep my head down and just keep moving forward.”
The decision to stay away from the throwing glove was a mistake, in retrospect. Kurt Warner was one notable quarterback who relied on that particular bit of hardware. There are others. And there are many who wonder why Bridgewater would add a variable he really didn't need to.
“I was training down in Florida," he said. "It was 80-degree weather, sunny outside, so I was letting the ball spin without the glove and I just felt confident going into the pro day. I trust my training, I’m always confident in my training, so going into competition I trust preparation. So I went back to Louisville and the weather changed, it was a little cold outside, the ball gets a little rough and I still decided to go without the glove.”
Bridgewater said from now on he'll go with the glove. But did he regret his decision to avoid throwing at the scouting combine? After all, UCF's Blake Bortles was able to spin a solid combine performance into a very nice pro day this week, and now he's the belle of the ball among draftable quarterbacks.
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“I’m still confident," Bridgewater insisted. "I feel that we made that decision, and it was a smart decision knowing that going into pro day I would be able to throw to some of my guys that I was able to throw at the University of Louisville. Coming out of both the combine and pro day, I’m still confident and I’m still happy that I made that decision.”
Bridgewater is completely confident the Houston Texans, who just traded former franchise quarterback Matt Schaub to the Raiders on Friday morning, should take him with the first overall pick. Bridgewater believes he has what it takes to drive Houston's offense -- or any NFL offense, for that matter -- to the next level.
“The biggest reason I feel is I’m a servant leader," he said. "I’m someone who wants to make everyone else around me better people, better players with nothing in return. I’m not looking for any recognition or anything like that. I’m a team player, someone that’s willing to go the extra mile, willing to come in early and go the opposite way. Not go in that locker room and try to win guys over but win guys over by going in that film room and that offensive room and learning the playbook right away, breaking down film, showing the guys that I understand what’s going on.
"Once guys see that you know your job, you know what you’re supposed to do, you’re responsible, then they’ll begin to trust you more. I feel that I have that capability. From a playing side, I feel that I’m an accurate passer, I’m smart with the football, I’m a winner. The past three years I was able to win I believe 30 games and I’ve made progress each year. Each year I’m just on a mission to become better and better.”
Once teams meet with Bridgewater, they'll see it. They'll see the kid who understands the game enough to draw it up on the board and call his own plays. They'll see the kid who rifles through his progressions even when he's flushed out of the pocket. They'll see the kid who has the arm to make most of the necessary throws and the field vision to make them happen.
They'll see it if they want to. Because in the end, tape doesn't lie -- even after pro days stretch the story in different directions.BURKE: 12 exciting 2014 NFL draft prospects hidden behind bigger name teammates