Former U of L quarterback Chris Redman says Teddy Bridgewater is "tailor cut" for success in the NFL.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The trained eyes of the NFL started crowding their way into the Papa John's Cardinal Stadium press box as soon as the 2013 season kicked off. By October there were always at least 20-to-26 NFL representatives at Louisville football home games.
These were not only scouts. I sat next to general managers of at least two teams, guys who made the trip to see if the hullabaloo about Teddy Bridgewater was justified. They gathered on the sidelines before the games to watch how Bridgewater interacted with teammates and prepared. Then, when the game started, they leaned into their binoculars to determine if he could make all the throws without showing any fear in the pocket.
Bridgewater certainly believes he is ready. On Wednesday he confirmed the inevitable: Instead of playing his senior season with the University of Louisville, Bridgewater will perform in the NFL.
There are at least 22.19 million reasons that was the sensible call because that is how much money the first pick in the 2013 draft was guaranteed when Eric Fisher, a lineman, signed his rookie contract last spring. No reason to risk injury – or to risk playing your way out of favor with teams that love you. With his smile and his ability to lead, look for Bridgewater to make even more away from the field.
Good for Teddy, his mother, Rose Murphy, and the challenging road they have traveled together for this joyous opportunity.
Does the NFL concur with Bridgewater's self-assessment?
Ask Chris Redman, another former Cardinal great who started playing quarterback in the NFL in 2000 before retiring in 2012.
"As a quarterback you're always evaluating other quarterbacks," Redman said. "Teddy does everything the right way. He moves around good. He's very accurate. He's tough. He does everything right. He's a humble guy. He's a leader.
"You always try to critique other quarterbacks to see what their strengths and what their weaknesses are. This guy has got everything going on. I think he is tailor-cut for the National Football League."
Tailor-cut to be The Guy that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell summons to the stage at Radio City Music Hall in New York City May 8 as the first overall selection?
"No question," Redman said.
"He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He's not afraid to check the ball down. As crazy as that sounds, sometimes that's as good an asset as there is for a quarterback to have, to not always feel like you have to force the ball and let the game kind of come to you."
Peter King of Sports Illustrated has been pushing Bridgewater as the likely first pick for weeks. Todd McShay of ESPN.com also has Bridgewater atop his latest mock draft. Others have concurred.
It is not a risky prediction. Bridgewater has made all the plays in all the situations without most of the background noise you've seen from other quarterbacks. He did not want a campaign for the Heisman Trophy. He wanted a campaign for another appearance by the Cardinals in a BCS bowl game.
It didn't happen that way, but it wasn't Bridgewater's fault. He finished his junior season with a school-record 31 touchdown passes, but only four interceptions in 427 passing attempts. He completed 71 percent of his throws while averaging 9.3 yards per attempt. He ranked first nationally in completion percentage and fifth in passing efficiency. Oh, and he won – 23 games and prime-time bowl victories over Florida and Miami (Florida) in the last two seasons.
His performance in Louisville's final two games – a victory at Cincinnati and another in the Russell Athletic Bowl over Miami – confirmed that Bridgewater is not afraid of trying to make the big – or most difficult – play.
He punished the Bearcats with three touchdowns passes while leading Louisville to a comeback victory the Cards secured in overtime. Last Saturday in Orlando, Bridgewater took an early sack before he threw more strikes than Sandy Koufax, dominated his hometown Miami Hurricanes for 447 yard passing yards, three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
The only time Bridgewater lost his poise came when he made the sign of a "U," and then a throat-slash toward the Miami crowd. He quickly apologized after the game.
Now Bridgewater is on his way to fulfill the destiny that was predicted for him when he merely trying to win the starting position at Northwestern High School in Miami – a quarterback who can win games in the National Football League. Redman can't wait to watch Bridgewater make that happen.
"There are so many things that he has done in his career," Redman said. "It was a lot of fun to watch, especially being a quarterback and playing the position that makes you respect the man even more because you know how hard it is out there.
"Teddy makes it look so easy. Usually when guys make it look so easy that's because they're a special player."