Hello Vikings fans! I hope everyone is having a good week so far. Earlier this week I looked at how I thought Kyle Rudolph would perform this year. This time around, lets take a look at the Vikings new (hopefully) franchise QB, Teddy B. Specifically, what can we reasonably expect from him? Who are some of his comparables? What are the chances he ends up being a true franchise QB? Lets dive in and take a look.
Obligatory Awesome Picture -via cdn.bloguin.com
Teddy B. Is a Viking! How the Hell Did That Happen...?
For starters, before taking a tumble due to skinny knees or whatever nonsense the national media was hyping up, Bridgewater was near-universally the #1 QB on everyones board. I even did a study where I concluded that not only should Teddy Bridgewater be the top QB taken, but that he should potentially be the #1 player overall. The fact that he dropped all the way to 32 and allowed us to save most of our draft capital for use elsewhere is actually fairly incredible. Its like the exact opposite of a JCPenny sale: everything is 25% more expense after a 75% drop in price. I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that so many teams passed on a guy who, at least to me, seems to have a ceiling as high as anyones in the past few classes. Yes, that includes the vaunted Luck/RGIII/Foles draft. Just to clarify, I'm not saying that Teddy B. will be better than those three. I'm also not ruling it out. I truly think his ceiling is that high. Why is that, you ask? In the words of Neil Degrasse Tyson, come with me, our journey is just beginning.
So, what should we expect of him? For starters, lets refer back to what I wrote about Teddy B. in December:
Bridgewater seems to be the consensus #1 QB right now, and is in contention to go #1 overall in the draft. His raw numbers are fantastic across the board, and his consistent excellency from year to year is incredible.
Having back-to-back seasons of 70+ completion % puts him in rarified territory, and his AYA of 9.3 and 9.7 from 2012 and 2013 is downright incredible.
I then went on to compare him favorably (in my opinion anyway) to Andrew Luck. Most Colts fans would probably be hemorraging at this point, but the numbers bear out the truth: Teddy B. was just as skilled and proficient in college as Andrew Luck. Numbers wise, there really is no difference between them. Except for the circumference of their knees I guess.
Also, just so it doesn't seem like I'm cherry picking one good comp, he compares favorably to Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, and Nick Foles, among others. He was seriously that good. We all probably know what these guys have done in the NFL thus far, so I don't think I need to explain what his potential ceiling is. These guys disperate paths to starting have all been very different though. Rodgers sat for a few years behind a hall of famer. Stafford was the man (albiet injured) from day one. Kaepernick sat for a year and a half, and Foles sat until it was apparent he was just that much better than Vick. Luck was also The Man from day one. Bridgewater, however, doesn't have an entrenched starter in front of him. Sure, the team resigned Cassel, but even if you are a Cassel supporter, lets be objective. Cassel has more than hit his ceiling. He could be ok this year, even decent. However, there is only so much Norv! can do. Objectively (objectively to PFF anyway) Cassel was pretty bad last year. He wasn't Ponder-level bad, but he certainly wasn't good. Solidly (if you can even use that word in this situation) below average. He was competent enough to run the offense, but not much more. I believe that Bridgewaters college numbers show us that he is capable of coming in and starting day 1. Not only that, but this was posted in an article a little while back:
When Bridgewater got his first glimpse of Watson’s full-field progression offense, he had never seen anything like it. He was overwhelmed. So Watson told Bridgewater to start doodling: take a pad of formations, with just the offensive line printed, and draw the offense. Bridgewater recited a play and then drew it: receivers and routes, he’d identify the movement key (the defensive player they’re reading), what the progression off that movement key is, the alerts, depth of drop—every single detail.
Bridgewater quickly filled up a pad and was bored by it. He needed more competition—another pillar of Bridgewater’s being—so Bridgewater put the entire Louisville offense into his Xbox football game. Then he put in the game plans for each game and threw against the coverages he would see.
I'm fairly certain that that quote was posted in an article here on the dailynorseman. I can't seem to find it though, else I'd give the author credit. I thought it was Arif, but again I can't find it. Anways, credit whomever the author was!
Back to the point: Teddy B. lives and breaths football. Seriously, if you are interested, I would highly recommened reading the full article, if you haven't already. Its articles like these that make me so excited to have Bridgewater as our QB. I fully expect that if the coaches are serious about having the best player start, Teddy Bridgewater will dispatch Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel in a QB competition, and I don't think it'll be all that close. Assuming that does come to pass, and #5 is under center week 1, what can we expect from him year 1? What about year 2?
To try and get an idea of what we could expect from Bridgewater, I took an average of 1st and 2nd seasons from recent early round draft picks who started right away. The list included:
- Matthew Stafford
- Nick Foles
- Andrew Luck
- Colin Kaepernick
- Cam Newton
- Sam Bradford
- Blaine Gabbert
- Andy Dalton
- Ryan Tannehill
- Russell Wilson
- Christian Ponder
An average of these guys first year would be a statline as follows:
- 58.5 Completion %
- 3500 Yards Passing
- 19 TDs
- 14 INTs
- AYA of 6.4
Average right off the bat for a rookie. Not a bad place to start, all things considered. Not all rookies can come in like Russell Wilson. Here are these players in year 2, after a full season and offseason of growth:
- 60.3 Completion %
- 3500 Yards Passing
- 22 TDs
- 11 INTs
- AYA of 7.1
Curious that the raw stats didn't really appreciate. I did adjust for games played, i.e. if they didn't finish the year I extrapolated a full 16 game schedules worth of stats. However, bear in mind that I feel that, besides a few obvious names on that list, Bridgewater is clearly more talented than those players. Ponder, Tannehill and Gabbert don't represent realistic comparisons in my opinion. One, because if we make the assumption that Bridgewater is good enough to start year 1 (i.e. beat Cassel) he'll likely perform at least an average level. Two, if Bridgewater struggles and has a season like Ponder or Gabbert, he's not going to be playing a full season, unless the Vikings are just buried in the standings (possible). With that in mind, I re-calculated the averages, this time with the unrepresentative players taken out. Here is the new composite average:
- Year 1
- 59.8 Completion %
- 3700 Yards Passing
- 21 TDs
- 14 INTs
- 6.8 AYA
- Year 2
- 60.3 Completion %
- 3600 Passing Yards
- 23 TDs
- 10 INTs
- 7.5 AYA
These are what I think is possible for Bridgewater to attain in his first couple years. I wouldn't even be surprised if he ends the year with stats like this. In fact, I wouldn't even be surprised (especially in year two) if Bridgewater bests these stats. Consider that I did these averages without taking situation into account. He's got a fantastic running game to lean on, at worst a slightly above average TE and a solid receiving corp. Couple that with a top 5 offensive line (minus Johnson) and he is in a very good situation to be good right away. Frankly, I could see Bridgewater hit 4000 yards passing with 25 or more TDs by his second year. I truly think his ceiling is that high. It is probably obvious at this point that I feel this way, but if you encompass everything that Bridgewater represents, which includes his cost to acquire and potential upside, I feel that he is the best draft pick the Vikings have made since Adrian Peterson in 2007. Time will tell, and no player is a lock to be successful, but I think that highly of Teddy Bridgewater. I think that Spielman has well and truly landed us an elite franchise QB. Let me know how you guys feel about Bridgewater. I always am up for a good discussion. Thanks for reading everyone!