This much is certain: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater disappointed at his Pro Day. In a scripted, pad-less workout with teammates, the ball isn’t supposed to hit the ground. But at least 10 of Bridgewater’s throws fell incomplete – some well wide or well over his receiver’s head. Longtime NFL scout Gil Brandt had Bridgewater at 57 of 65.
“To be honest, I expected a little more,” NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said after watching Bridgewater throw. “Very average at best.”
The question now becomes how much stock NFL teams will put into Bridgewater’s subpar performance. He was a potential #1 overall pick prior to his Pro Day. A lock to be selected among the top 8. Will he remain in that mix? Or does he now drop into the 2nd half of Round 1?
The Pro Day is just one part of the scouting puzzle. Most of the pieces of that puzzle come from tape study. How a player performs in live game action against real competition is the best indicator. But other pre-draft events – including Pro Days, the NFL Combine and interviews – certainly play a part in evaluations.
Placing too much stock in Pro Days can be dangerous, though. Recent history is chock full of examples. Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert’s draft stock soared after an impressive showing.
“The kid confirmed everything you want to see in a franchise quarterback,” Mayock said after that workout. “I thought he did as good as he could have. His footwork was real clean. His arm was real accurate, and his arm strength was great.”
Gabbert was selected 10th overall in the 2011 draft, went 5-22 in 27 starts with the Jaguars and was traded to the 49ers last week in exchange for a 6th-round pick.
Then there’s QB Cam Newton, whose Pro Day results were “mixed.” Newton completed just 50 of 60 passes at his workout. Since then, he’s won the 2011 Rookie of the Year award and been named to 2 Pro Bowls.
So a word of warning to NFL teams: Don’t dump Bridgewater down your draft board just because of a disappointing Pro Day. Instead, use it as a small piece of your overall evaluation. Go back and watch more tape. This is a guy who tossed 58 TDs and just 12 INTs over the past 2 seasons. A guy who improved his completion rate each year at Louisville, topping out at a sterling 71% in 2013. That should mean a whole lot more than a few missed passes at a Pro Day.