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Teddy Bridgewater and why Pro Days do matter

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After an underwhelming Pro Day, the ubiquity of "Manziel mania", and the rising stock of lesser known quarterbacks, Teddy Bridgewater's perceived value in the fast approaching NFL Draft has seen a huge drop.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported Saturday that the Cincinnati Bengals are having discussions drafting him as a "fallback option" for Andy Dalton with at No. 24 overall.

For any sports fan, analyst, writer, or scout, it should be deeply disturbing that a guy who was once touted as the most NFL ready passer, is now being pursued as a fallback option.

Teddy Bridgewater gained huge popularity in January 2013 when the Louisville Cardinals shocked the Florida Gators beating them 33-23 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

As the 2013 college football season unfolded Bridgewater improved seemingly every week, completing 70 percent of his passes and amassing 31 passing touchdowns during his final season as a Cardinal. Even more impressive than his accuracy was the fact that he nearly though for 4,000 yards while playing in a low octane Pro Style offense. Oh, and there's that pesky Russell Athletic Bowl performance where he torched a tough Miami Hurricane defense for 447 yards and three touchdowns in his final game.

Bridgewater interviewed well at the combine, and elected to throw at his Pro Day where he could work with receivers that he was more comfortable with.

Many draft analysts and scouts agree that Pro Days usually don't affect the stock of a quarterback prospect much at all, but this one did.

Pro Day attendees were disappointed by his performance. He wasn't wearing gloves as he usually does and didn't have the tight spiral and great ball placement that scouts had seen on tape, he concerned many people with the amount of throws he missed.

Especially after every other top quarterback prospect (Derek Carr, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel, and most recently Zach Mettenberger) saw their stock rise after excelling at their Pro Day.

NFL Network's Mike Mayock dropped Bridgewater from number one to two on his type five quarterbacks list, and then completely out of his top five rankings a few weeks later. Many analysts eluded to the idea that Bridgewater was incapable of throwing without his trademark gloves on and some scouts considered that a red flag. There were also serious questions being asked about his ability to handle the spotlight, and whether or not the stage of his Pro Day was to big for him.

If we look back to Bridgewater's games and break his strengths and weaknesses down, it doesn't take too long to remember that there are many things to like about his game. And gloves or not, his skill set translates well to the NFL.

Bridgewater gets rid of the ball quickly, the average NFL passer has about three seconds to get rid of the football and he did that for most of his college career. He's very accurate on his short and intermediate throws and his tape shows him making completions through many tight windows. He also has underrated ability to escape pressure and use his feet to buy time to make a throw or to scramble for good yardage.

The only true issues with this guy are his arm strength and size. Bridgewater's tape does suggest a glaring deficiency with deep throw completions and generally completions of more than 15 yards. This creates fair criticism of his arm strength and ability to make big plays in the passing game. However arm strength can improve with quarterbacks over time and if his only knock against his play is his ability to throw the deep ball, he is still a solid prospect as many NFL offenses have been effective without those throws.

As far as his size, Bridgewater is about 6' 3' and 200 pounds which is underweight for a passer. However, if there's anything an athlete should be able to do it's add muscle to their frame through proper diet and exercise. It won't take him too long to get up to about 215 or 220 to better prepare his body for hits at the NFL level.

When considering Pro Days lets remember that the consensus between many analysts and scouts is that the best two in recent memory came from Jamarcus Russell and Kyle Boller and neither panned out as pro quarterbacks. The sad truth is that they influence coaches, scouts and General Managers, and therefore influence draft decisions. From this point on, quarterbacks should really think twice before deciding not to throw at the combine, and if they don't they should plan several dress rehearsals for their Pro Day.

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