It is no secret that the best teams in the National Football League (NFL) rely heavily on their franchise quarterbacks for the success they enjoy. It is also no secret that truly great quarterbacks – franchise quarterbacks – are as rare as hen’s teeth.
It takes a great athlete with a rocket-like throwing arm and a high football IQ to make a quarterback unique and special. There just aren’t too many players like that even though many college quarterbacks arrive in the NFL with backgrounds that seem to promise spectacular results.
Such players rarely live up to the hype and expectations because the level of play from college football to professional football improves exponentially. A young quarterback may excel in a good college program but find it hard to match his success against the world’s best players.
So when a professional team “gets lucky” with a draft pick it is a cause for celebration. Last year, in 2014, a team apparently did get lucky. It was the Minnesota Vikings. Drafting late in the first round, the Vikings were surprised to find Louisville’s starting senior quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, still available.
Prior to the draft, analysts had named him the most professional-ready college quarterback available. But, for reasons few, if any, can explain, Bridgewater was still available at the very end of Round One. The surprised, but delighted, Vikings used Pick #32 to select the 6’3” two hundred fifteen pound quarterback and the rest is, as has often been said, “history.”
Bridgewater “rode the pine” for a couple of games at the beginning of his NFL career, but soon found himself as the starter. He performed well right from the start, elevating the Vikings to wins on the strength of his throwing arm and his on-field decisions.
When his first year as a professional quarterback had ended, Teddy Bridgewater received lots of accolades. For instance, he was named the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year and the NFC North Rookie of the Year. He was also named to the 2014 PFWA All-Rookie Team.
His success should have surprised nobody because he also earned lots of acclaim while in college. In fact, Bridgewater was named to the Freshman All-American team in 2011 and was the Big East Conference Rookie of the Year that same season.
Teddy Bridgewater also was named Most Valuable Player for his play in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, a game won by the Louisville Cardinals.
Clearly, everything has been “coming up roses” for this dynamic and rapidly-improving young quarterback. In his short career to date, Bridgewater has attempted five hundred eighty-nine passes and completed nearly three hundred eighty of them. He has thrown nineteen touchdown passes and has been intercepted just sixteen times.
Importantly, he is getting better. And as he improves, the Minnesota Vikings become more dangerous. A spot in the postseason may be in this team’s future.
Courtesy of USA Today