ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. says Teddy Bridgewater is no longer a sure first-round NFL Draft pick.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Can you imagine an NFL Draft where both Calvin Pryor of Louisville and Indiana receiver Cody Latimer are selected ahead of Teddy Bridgewater?
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. can.
On Wednesday, Kiper said Pryor was the best safety in the draft and that he expected him to be taken in the first round. Latimer, the IU junior, is drawing as much love as any Big Ten prospect. Kiper expects Latimer to be taken from 22-to-32. That’s the first round.
And Bridgewater, the former U of L quarterback?
When I asked Kiper about Bridgewater Wednesday, he said he has not changed his latest projection, which has Bridgewater being taken by Texas with the first pick in the second round.
What happened to the quarterback who was identified as the first overall pick by Sports Illustrated last fall and remained a consensus top 10 pick when the college football season ended?
“What’s happened is in the long process of the draft, that pro day became very important,” Kiper said. “People go back and look at game after game. When you have a pro day like that, the red flag goes up.
“Everybody goes back and they look at every game and scrutinize that. You saw some inaccurate throws. You saw some throws that didn’t have necessarily the velocity you would have wanted. That kind of worked in conjunction with the pro day.”
Bridgewater worked out for 29 of 32 NFL teams at Louisville during the Cards’ Pro Day March 17. Although he completed 56 of 63 passes and was timed unofficially at 4.78 in the 40-yard dash, Bridgewater failed to dazzle many NFL observers, like Ron Jaworski, Mike Mayock and Kiper. Several throws fluttered. He underthrew too many receivers.
Several, like Kiper, left town wondering why Bridgewater abandoned the glove he wore on his throwing (right) hand all season.
“Not wearing the glove,” Kiper said. “Even when he wore the glove, he had some issues in terms of that in college this year. The completion percentage, the touchdown/interception percentage great, but the schedule was very mediocre.
“All that played in to where he is now as a quarterback who could go early second round. I had him to Houston a couple of weeks ago and that’s where I see him possibly going, somewhere in round two.”
Understand that Kiper is one voice in a crowded nest of critics chirping for attention. Don Banks of Sports Illustrated still has Bridgewater listed as the eighth overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings.
Three analysts at CBSSports.com agree with that. But three other guys at NFL.com project that Bridgewater will be taken by Cleveland with the 26th overall pick.
There is less debate about Pryor and Latimer. The NFL has invited all three guys to attend the draft, which begins May 8 at 8 p.m. at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.
Pryor is a consensus first-round pick, and Latimer has moved into the first round on several mock drafts. Kiper said that when he posts his final position rankings on Monday that he would likely rank Pryor ahead of Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
“Clinton-Dix has range,” Kiper said. “He can cover. He’s a pretty good tackler. I did see him miss an open field tackle or two.
“You look at Pryor, Pryor’s just lights out. He competes. The coverage ability, I’ve watched him make a lot of plays in coverage. His 40 time (4.58) is reflective of how good he is … Calvin Pryor would be a great pick. People question his coverage ability. I don’t. He’s an enforcer. He’s a hitter. He’s a great kid and a very consistent player.”
Latimer caught 72 passes and scored nine touchdowns for the Hoosiers last season, averaging 15.2 yards per reception. In January, Latimer projected as a third-round pick. Now he has been invited to Manhattan in 15 days.
“When you’re 6-2 ½, 225 pounds and run a 4.39 (40-yard dash) and you’re one of the strongest wide receivers you’ll ever come across and you have real good hands and natural pass-receiving skills, that’s going to push you up,” Kiper said.
“I think a lot of people are saying with another year, he could have been a top 10-to-15 guy. You’re projecting him right now 22-to-32. I had him going in the last projection in the first round.” Copyright 2014 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.