How Teddy Bridgewater Fits with the Minnesota Vikings

Darren PageFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Minnesota Vikings as the 32 pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Thursday, May 8, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

After going defense first, the eye of the Vikings shifted squarely to the quarterback position.  As the board unfolded, the wait for Minnesota general manager Rick Spielman to trade up and get his guy finally ended with the last pick of the first round.  

The Vikings now have their quarterback of the future.

Teddy Bridgewater was a lightning rod as the predraft process unfolded.  His limitations were and are highly publicized.  One of the biggest is that Bridgewater just doesn't make enough special plays and that he can't hit defenses over the top.

Labeling Teddy Bridgewater just ja distributor of the football is not unfair.  That's what quarterbacks do, though.  Even better, the Vikings have the weapons for Bridgewater to throw to.  Had he landed on a team with a dire pass-catching situation, the outlook could be quite a bit more bleak.  Bridgewater complements his new receivers and vice versa.

The most likely tandem is Bridgewater and receiver Greg Jennings.  Jennings does a phenomenal job getting early separation and finding space underneath.  Through my own charting, I deducted a 90 percent completion percentage (drops counted as receptions and throwaways omitted) for Teddy Bridgewater on throws underneath ten yards.  That was eight percent higher than the second-best quarterback.  His short to intermediate passing game is that of a quality NFL quarterback right now.

He also charted out with the highest adjusted completion percentage on throws outside the hashes and inside the hashes when throws behind the line of scrimmage were not counted.  The statistics bear out his ability to attack all areas of the field and throw with accuracy.

Bridgewater is also more than willing to throw the ball into tight windows.  That bodes well for hook-ups with tight end Kyle Rudolph and a leaper like Cordarrelle Patterson.  Being able to lean on a talented back like Adrian Peterson early in his career doesn't hurt either.

The all-around skill set of Bridgewater means that he isn't limited to specific routes to be successful.  He operated a pro-style offense at Louisville, often making his own calls at the line of scrimmage.  His refinement at such an early stage in his development is promising.  That had to ease offensive coordinator Norv Turner's concerns about Bridgewater's arm limitations.  Turner's offense revolves around a downfield passing attack, but if he's willing to adapt it to what Bridgewater does best, the results could be outstanding.

Immediate expectations should not be for Bridgewater to win the starting job in camp and take the league by storm.  If he has to hold a clipboard behind Matt Cassel for a few weeks, there is no harm in that.  Once he is fully prepared, then it's time to see what he has.

From a long-term view, Bridgewater must develop into a quality starter who can get his team to the playoffs on close to a regular basis.  When spending a first-round pick on a quarterback, that must be the expectation.  

The onus is now on the Vikings to build their offensive scheme and personnel around their new signal-caller in order to get the most out of their investment.