Teddy Bridgewater To Minnesota Is The Steal Of The NFL Draft 1st Round

There is no team that helped themselves more on the first day of the 2014 NFL draft then the Minnesota Vikings, and the best part didn’t happen until the final pick of the night. Minnesota made a deal with the Seattle Seahawks to get the #32 pick and used it to grab Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the best signal-caller in the draft.

Bridgewater has the physical tools, from pocket presence to a strong arm to accuracy. He has the college pedigree. He lifted the Louisville Cardinals to prominence. In the biggest game of his college career—the Sugar Bowl following the 2012 season—Bridgewater carved up the Florida Gators, who had one of the best defenses in the country that year. And in his college finale, Bridgewater put on an absolute passing clinic in a bowl blowout of the Miami Hurricanes.

So why did he fall all the way to #32 (and would have fallen into Round 2 had Seattle kept their pick)? Well, against this entire resume, against all the game film that scouts have on, against all the work done against live opponents, we have the searing indictment that Bridgewater did not look good on his “Pro Day”, where the college kids come to work out for the scouts.

Got it. If the NFL is about who plays good in shorts and a T-shirt, I’ll run from Bridgewater. However, if the league is still going to actually play football as I’ve understood it on Sundays, then this guy is an absolute gem. Bridgewater is the only player I would have even considered taking first overall (with trading the pick being the only other option).

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Everything about Teddy Bridgewater to Minnesota seems to make sense. Stepping into an offense built around Adrian Peterson is ideal for any quarterback. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner might be a problem as a head coach, but when it’s just about running the offense and developing the passing game, Norv is as good as it gets. As recently as last year, he worked in Cleveland and managed to turn receiver Josh Gordon into the second coming of Jerry Rice.

The new Minnesota head coach, Mike Zimmer, has a solid defensive reputation based on his days in Cincinnati. It will take a lot of heat off Bridgewater if he not only has a running game, but his defense doesn’t let games get out of control. To that end, Minnesota’s choice of outside linebacker Anthony Barr, a playmaker extraordinaire from UCLA with the ninth overall pick, was an inspired selection and only adds to the haul the Vikings enjoyed yesterday.

Teddy Bridgewater would have still been a steal at #9. He would have been a steal at #2. To get him at #32, while adding defensive help, marks the Minnesota Vikings as the big winners of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft.

Other notes on the first round…

*If Teddy was the big winner, then Johnny Manziel was the big loser. It’s tough to be the pick that starts “falling” on draft night. It’s also tough to have go play for the Cleveland Browns. But if you combine the two, that amounts to as miserable a night as one can have.

Whatever mistakes Johnny Football has made in his young life, no one deserves to first fall to #22, and then get stuck with the Browns. At least when Aaron Rodgers started falling in 2005 he ended up with a contender.

*The runner-up to Minnesota in the category of winners are the Cincinnati Bengals. Michigan State corner Darqueze Dennard was worth being a top five selection, but the Bengals got him in the latter stages of the first round.

With the way Andy Dalton keeps struggling in big moments, Marvin Lewis is clearly going to need a defense as good as the one he coordinated with the 2000 Baltimore Ravens if Cincinnati is to ever see the second round of the postseason. Dennard will help in that goal.