Most rookies in the NFL 50 years ago, including first round draft picks, were expected to begin their careers on the bench so they could develop their style of play and acclimate to the speed of the pros.
And although I cannot seem to corral any rock-solid statistics to prove my next statement, it seems as if NFL rookies, ranging from first to seventh rounders, are being relied on more heavily with each year that passes by.
Some rookies were even amongst the top-10 or top-20 overall in their respective positions last year: rookies such as Keenan Allen and Eddie Lacy are apparently well respected around the league, while ascending stars such as Cordarrelle Patterson, Ezekial Ansah, and Jordan Reed are expected to make huge second-year leaps.
Everyone loves a good rookie and in this section I will be focusing solely on that: the NFL Draft.
Day 1: Teddy Bridgewater
Going into last season, young Theodore “Teddy” Bridgewater was the consensus #1 quarterback across the board for the draft “pundits” in the media. Most liked Bridgewater going as high as 1 overall to whatever NFL was picking first, because that team was most likely going to need a quarterback.
After a solid-yet-unspectacular final season in Louisville, Bridgewater saw his draft stock plummet. Evaluators watching Bridewater’s film began to nitpick. He was too skinny, he lacked the NFL caliber arm strength, he was inaccurate and bombed his pro day (wow…). Bridgewater became the most scrutinized prospect in the draft next to fellow first-round QB Johnny Football (more on him later).
Despite all of the Bridgewater hate that occurred before the draft, and the fall of Bridgewater to #32 on draft day, I maintain my opinion that he will come out of this draft class as the best first round pick of the three QBs taken in the first.
Bridgewater is indeed on the smaller side, measuring in at 6’2, 214 lbs at the annual NFL combine, and has had some durability issues in college (Bridgewater broke his left wrist against UConn).
Bridgewater, however, returned to that UConn game, broken left wrist and all, and led Louisville to a win. Bridgewater never missed a game once he was inserted as the starter in his fourth game of his freshman year, while only missing one “start”, a game against Rutgers where he came off the bench despite his injury and won the game, sending Louisville to a BCS berth.
Bridgewater has shown rare pocket movement and the ability to truly manipulate the pocket. He also has unreal short to mid-range accuracy. His screen pass placement and deep ball placement can leave a lot to be desired but overall Bridgwater has the ability to put the team on his back.
Earlier in the year I had watched four or five hours worth of Louisville games, hitting about seven games overall. In that time watching the offense, I noticed Bridgewater had an eerily similar playing style to Aaron Rodgers; I noticed through his many games that Bridgewater is deceptively athletic with the ball in his hands while also possessing the ability to bust off a 10 yard run to convert for the first down if needed.
Overall, Bridgewater was my favorite QB in this draft–by far–and there’s no secret about how sad I was to not see him go to the Cardinals or Patriots.
I am pretty pumped to see what Bridge can do with Norv Turner running an extremely Tight End favoring offense. Being able to throw passes to uber-athletic tight end Kyle Rudolph, freak of nature Cordarrelle Patterson, and hand the ball to one of the greatest backs of all time in Adrian “All Day” Peterson will surely aid in Bridgewater’s development, while also allowing for some sneaky OROY potential.
Until next time.