Teddy Bridgewater, Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel (left-to-right) are the three rookie quarterbacks to watch in the NFL.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Until further review, they will be known as the Class of 2014 – Blake Bortles (Jaguars/Central Florida), Johnny Manziel (Browns/Texas A&M) and Teddy Bridgewater (Vikings/Louisville), the three quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft last May.
Each rookie has played his first exhibition game so it's already time to do what NFL analysts will be doing until January – rank the three rookies off their weekly performances.
After studying the videos, I've got to start this process by ranking them in the same order they were selected – Bortles (third), Manziel (22nd) and Bridgewater (32nd).
1. Blake Bortles – completed 7 of 11 passes for 117 yards, including a 31-yard completion to Mike Brown; ran once for 7 yards; played 22 snaps as Jaguars gained 117 yards; suffered three drops; beat Tampa Bay 16-10.
Word from Jacksonville is that despite his solid play, Bortles will not start this week during Jacksonville's second exhibition game against Chicago Thursday. Former Michigan quarterback Chad Henne is the guy Bortles needs to outplay. That shouldn't be that difficult, especially with home fans roaring after every play that Bortles, a Florida kid, makes.
“There was some good stuff, some bad stuff, things that I've got to overcome," Bortles told the Associated Press after the game.
"It's a process, it's not going to happen overnight," he added. "The chemistry felt really good with the second unit, we've been working really well together during camp. I thought the offensive line did a really good job of protecting up front."
2. Johnny Manziel – completed 7 of 11 for 63 yards; ran 6 times for 27 yards; lost to Detroit 13-12.
Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that Manziel performed as expected – “like a rookie.” In other words, Brian Hoyer remains the Browns' starting quarterback. But considering how long the Browns have been waiting for winning quarterback (Brian Sipe? Milt Plum?), Manziel does not figure to sit forever.
Said Pluto, “The good is that Manziel made some excellent throws when he was patient and stayed in the pocket. He can be an accurate passer when planting his feet and making a basic throw.
“The bad is that too often, Manziel ran the ball rather than wait for a play to develop.”
The Browns play a nationally televised Monday night ESPN game at Washington on Aug. 18. I have a feeling we might see a promotion or two for that game. Will you watch? Thought so.
3. Teddy Bridgewater – completed 6 of 13 for 49 yards; two sacks, one fumble; beat Oakland 10-6.
Bridgewater was hurt by several penalties, including one on his best throw. But he figures to remain behind veteran Matt Cassel on the Vikings' depth chart. The Vikings play a home game against Arizona on Saturday night.
Reviews on his performance were mixed, at best. Ryan Wilson of CBSSports.com wrote that Bridgewater looked good. But Dan Hanzus of NFL.com wrote that Cassel (5 for 6 for 62 yards and a touchdown) outplayed Bridgewater.
“Bridgewater's number's weren't anything special -- he was 6 of 13 for 49 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs -- but the way he played jumped off the screen, starting with his very first pass attempt.
“Midway through the first quarter, Bridgewater replaced Matt Cassel (who was surgical in his one series, leading the team on a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive). On his first play from scrimmage, he rolled right and threw a laser to Greg Jennings near the sideline for what would have been a 21-yard completion if not for an illegal formation penalty. It was textbook in every sense.
“In the scheme of an NFL season -- or, hell, an NFL preseason -- that one play doesn't mean much. But after months of getting killed in the media for what amounts to not wearing gloves during his pro day, the poise, decision making, mobility in the pocket and arm strength Bridgewater showed in his first preseason effort is, at the very least, encouraging.”