LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Teddy Bridgewater stood tall at the podium early Monday afternoon.
The former University of Louisville quarterback said he felt no nerves earlier in the day. He said he was pleased with how he performed at the Cardinals’ much-anticipated Pro Day, the latest step in the process leading to the May 8-10 2014 NFL Draft.
“I think I did pretty well,” Bridgewater said.
That wasn’t a consensus Monday, with Bridgewater – projected by many as a potential Top 5 selection – weighing in at 208 pounds and throwing for about 20 minutes in what many observers considered an average session of individual passing drills.
“I thought it was a good workout, not a great workout,” NFL Network analyst and former NFL Most Valuable Player Kurt Warner told jaguars.com. “When you come to these Pro Days, because they work on it so much and so much of it’s scripted, you expect it to be a little more crisp than it was. Throwing against air is not how you play the game, so it’s hard to read into it.
“But if I’m Teddy Bridgewater, I’m probably disappointed I didn’t throw the ball better than what I did today.”
Observers’ reactions were mixed.
“I’ve watched a lot of quarterback workouts, and this one of the really good ones,” NFL Media draft analyst Gil Brandt said, with former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb saying, “This is just one workout.”
“This one workout may not have been A-plus,” McNabb added, “but it still ranks at the top and he still should be one of the top five or six players drafted this year.”
Bridgewater and other Louisville draft-eligible players worked inside the Trager Center indoor practice facility Monday morning for scouts, coaches and officials from 29 of 32 NFL teams, including six NFL head coaches: Gus Bradley of the Jaguars, Chip Kelly of the Eagles, Ken Whisenhunt of the Titans, Bill O’Brien of the Texans and Dennis Allen of the Raiders.
Jaguars General Manager David Caldwell was one of several general managers in attendance, a list that also included Rick Spielman of the Minnesota Vikings, John Idzik of the New York Jets, Ryan Grigson of the Indianapolis Colts and Ruston Webster of the Tennessee Titans.
Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch and defensive line coach Todd Wash also attended for Jacksonville, as did Senior Vice President of Football Technology & Analytics Tony Khan.
Bridgewater, one of three quarterbacks considered a possible Top 5 selection, along with Blake Bortles of the University of Central Florida and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, began the day weighing in at 208 pounds. That’s down from 214 at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Weight has been a significant pre-draft concern around Bridgewater, with some concerned he lacks the frame to withstand regular punishment at the NFL level.
Bridgewater said he played about 222 pounds as a sophomore and would like to get back to that weight. He said his weight loss since the combine stemmed from training in Florida, and from a cold caught in the last week.
“I didn’t really have an appetite, so we’ll go from there,” he said.
Bridgewater ran an unofficial 4.78-second 40-yard dash, and opted to not run his second 40 because he said scouts were there to see him throw, anyway.
“I’ll never have to run another 40 again,” he said, smiling.
Bridgewater struggled at times later in the session, particularly on deep throws, and said he was comfortable with the script used during the workouts.
“Me being a perfectionist, it was nowhere near where I wanted it to be,” he said. “It’s a learning process. I was able to take away some things from those throws, but overall, I thought I had a great day throwing the football.”
Bridgewater started with a few wobbly passes early in the workout, though he threw just two incompletions among his first 35 or so passes. He appeared to throw with good arm strength early and displayed quick feet.
“I thought it was OK,” ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay said. “It was not the sharpest Pro Day workout.”
McShay said he attributed some of Bridgewater’s struggles to getting a “late jump” in preparing for the pre-draft process, beginning work with his quarterbacks coach, former Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke of IMG, a few weeks later than is ideal.
“It seems like he’s thinking a little bit and not quite as natural,” McShay said. “I think he’s the most accurate and consistently mechanically sound of all the quarterbacks in the draft. To watch him today, he didn’t seem like himself on certain throws.”
McShay also said Bridgewater, who has been criticized at times for being an “arm thrower,” is trying to work on throwing more with his body and upper legs.
“He’s working to get that all involved and it’s harder than people think, to get the lower body and upper body together and try to drive it,” McShay said. “I actually thought that’s where he suffered the most (Monday), was failing to drive off that back leg and transfer the weight back to front.
“This is an unusual case where I think his tape is better than this scripted workout.”
Bridgewater, who usually threw with a glove at Louisville, threw without a glove Monday. He said he did so because he had been throwing without a glove while training with Weinke in South Florida, and added that scouts did not ask him to throw without the glove.
“I was confident I could throw without the glove,” he said, adding that he’ll make a decision later on whether to use the glove in the NFL.
And while how well he did that was debated by observers, Bridgewater said overall he was pleased.
“I think it worked out for me,” Bridgewater, who opted to not throw at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, said. My agent and I had a plan, and we stuck by that plan. … It wasn’t hard at all. It’s doing something I love most, throwing the football and playing football. I was relaxed. I woke up this morning, looked in the mirror and said, ‘Hey, let’s go. It’s go time.’ …
“It’s whatever a team wants, whatever the decision-makers want in an organization. They can watch the film and go from there; they can base it on a Pro Day. I can’t control that. I just have to work hard and continue to make progress.”
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