AFC South: Teddy Bridgewater

What kind of NFL career will newly signed quarterback Tom Savage have?

Will it be comparable to Steve Stenstrom or David Garrard? Danny Wuerffel or Aaron Brooks? Sage Rosenfels or Kyle Orton?

[+] EnlargeTom Savage
AP Photo/Pat SullivanThe Texans are hoping Tom Savage can beat the odds and become a long-term answer at quarterback.
To make a somewhat educated guess, you have to look back over the last 20 drafts (not including the one conducted earlier this month).

The latter name in the three comparisons above is obviously preferable, but the chances of that happening are low. There were 28 quarterbacks drafted in the fourth round from 1994 to 2013. Only nine were able to start at least 10 games and only six were able to become the starting quarterback or start at least 16 games.

That means only 21 percent of the quarterbacks drafted started what amounts to a full season in the NFL. That is a low number until you remember it’s the fourth round, which is traditionally not a place teams find quality starting quarterbacks.

There are obviously exceptions, such as Garrard, Brooks and Orton, all of whom became multiyear starters. Other fourth-round picks over that span that started at least 16 games were Danny Kanell, Seneca Wallace and Rob Johnson.

It’s interesting to note that there are also six sixth-round quarterbacks that have gone on to start at least 16 games in their careers. It’s a pretty good group, too: Tom Brady, Matt Hasselbeck, Marc Bulger, Jim Miller, Bruce Gradkowski, and Derek Anderson. It’s obviously skewed by Brady, but Hasselbeck, Bulger and Miller combined to lead their teams to the playoffs nine times and one Super Bowl.

Seventeen of the 135 quarterbacks drafted in Rounds 4-7 from 1994-2013 went on to start at least 16 games in their careers. In addition to the previously named players, that group includes Gus Frerotte, A.J. Feeley, Matt Cassel, and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

None of that will be any help to receiver Andre Johnson, who less than a week after the Texans took Savage in the fourth round said he wondered if Houston was still the place for him. It's obvious he's unhappy with the quarterback position, especially after seeing the Jacksonville Jaguars take Blake Bortles No. 3 overall, the Cleveland Browns trade up four spots to take Johnny Manziel at No. 22, and the Minnesota Vikings trade back into the first round to take Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd pick.

Houston had the 33rd overall selection.

But it’s interesting to look back because it shows that while it’s unlikely, it is possible to find very good -- and possibly even great -- quarterbacks in the fourth round or later. The Texans are hoping they did.
HOUSTON -- The panic was palpable as the first-round closed.

There the Texans were, having taken Jadeveon Clowney first overall then having sat pat for the rest of the first round, rather than addressing what remains their biggest need.

Blake Bortles went third overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Johnny Manziel waited hours until the Cleveland Browns took him 22nd. The Minnesota Vikings traded up to the 32nd pick, one slot before the Texans drafted next, to take Teddy Bridgewater. And just like that, the three most talked-about quarterbacks in this year's draft were gone.

Panic in the streets.

Only, if you listened to what the Texans have been saying since March, this fits.

They said they didn't see three clear-cut top players. Coach Bill O'Brien said he didn't see much separation between that trinity and other quarterbacks. General manager Rick Smith agreed.

"There's some depth in this draft class in general and I think one of the positions that illustrates that is the quarterback position," Smith told me on March 25. "A lot of people talk about the three guys Manziel, Bortles, and Bridgewater, but there’s some good quarterbacks out there, the whole group."

On the same day, O'Brien mentioned Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo and Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, when bringing up names of other "guys that can play quarterback." He didn't mention Derek Carr, David's younger brother, but some (including Mel Kiper) consider him to be the best quarterback remaining in the draft.

That the Texans have waited fits.

Trust me, they realize it's a need. It was a need even before Houston traded Matt Schaub away to the Raiders. His story with the Texans was finished. This new Texans regime has no intention of going into 2014 with only the three quarterbacks they have now -- Ryan Fitzpatrick, signed in free agency, Case Keenum and T.J. Yates. If that happens, something went wrong. They've had internal discussions about Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett, but as of Thursday evening they have had no talks with the Patriots.

The Texans considered moving back into the late first round, but apparently decided against it. And while I think getting Clowney and Bridgewater in the same draft would have been one heck of a coup, their sights clearly weren't set on the former Louisville quarterback.

The Texans had the night to reset and the morning to take a look at their draft board and decide what to do. We won't know for a while -- maybe a few more years -- whether they made the right move to watch Bortles, Manziel and Bridgewater slip by. But what we do know right now is the Texans are doing what they said they would.

They are acting like they told the truth all along.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- An elite pass-rusher and a franchise quarterback. Not a bad haul in the first round in the NFL Nation mock draft that was held on Tuesday afternoon.

Bridgewater
Mack
Each of the NFL Nation bloggers whose team had a first-round pick acted as general manager and made picks they thought the team they cover would make. In doing my best David Caldwell impersonation, I grabbed linebacker Khalil Mack with the third pick and then jumped back into the latter part of the first round and landed Teddy Bridgewater at 29.

Here's what I was thinking as the draft unfolded ...

I actually went after Jadeveon Clowney. I had some discussions with Houston reporter Tania Ganguli to move up to No. 1 but I felt the price was too high. The Jaguars need to continue to build the roster and I thought losing as many picks as she wanted was not the best approach. Ganguli managed to work out a deal with Buffalo reporter Mike Rodak, though. I wrote about that the Mack selection and how he would fit with the Jaguars earlier Tuesday.

I didn’t really consider taking a quarterback at No. 3 because I wasn’t completely sold on any of them that high. It would have been too risky of a pick and right now the Jaguars can’t afford to take those kinds of risks.

However, when Bridgewater dropped into the teens I got interested, and when he was still on the board at No. 20 I knew I needed to take a shot to land the most pro-ready quarterback in the draft and a guy I believe can be an elite quarterback.

So I exchanged a few emails and texts with New England Patriots reporter Mike Reiss, who had let everyone know he was open to trading down, in an attempt to work out a trade for the 29th overall pick. Complicating things was the fact that another team got into the mix.

After some quick back and forth, Reiss and I settled on this deal. In exchange for the 29th pick I agreed to give him the Jaguars’ second-round pick (39th overall), one of their two fourth-round picks (114th overall), one of their three fifth-round picks (150th overall), and their seventh-round pick (222nd overall).

I felt it was a good deal because I still have a fourth- and two fifth-round picks and eight picks total, which still gives me some ammunition if I wanted to trade back into the third round. Plus, I got the quarterback I wanted more than any other.

I know he had a poor pro day workout, but the bottom line is he's the most pro-ready quarterback and he has more experience in a pro-style system than any of the other quarterbacks. When you put on the tape there are no reservations about Bridgewater.

There are some bad throws and bad decisions, as there are with any quarterback, but the tape shows a quarterback who has good feel and mobility in the pocket, goes through progressions, and has a strong enough arm to succeed at the NFL level.

Not a bad start.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Teddy Bridgewater's second visit with the Jacksonville Jaguars certainly indicates genuine interest on the part of general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley.

They spent time with him at the combine, had a private meeting at his pro day and already played host to him on a visit, so it's unlikely they'd waste any additional time and money on Bridgewater if he weren't a legitimate target. But where?

The Jaguars pick third, but it seems unlikely that they would take the former Louisville standout there. Based on recent reports and mock drafts, Bridgewater is dropping in the first round because of his shaky performances at his pro day and in private workouts. ESPN's Mel Kiper actually had him going to Houston with the top pick in the second round in his latest mock draft.

The Jaguars pick seventh in the second round (39th overall) and have 11 total draft picks. One theory has Caldwell putting a deal together to move back into the latter part of the first round -- likely the late teens or early 20s -- and selecting Bridgewater. Saturday's visit could be a final under-the-hood exam to make sure he's the right fit for offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch's system.

Caldwell hasn't said which of the big three quarterbacks he likes the best, but he has said it's harder to evaluate quarterbacks who played in spread offenses in college and project how their skills will translate at the NFL level. Bridgewater played in a West Coast pro-style offense at Louisville while Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles played in spread offenses. Draft analysts have said Bridgewater has the best pocket presence of the three and appears to be the most pro-ready of all the quarterbacks in the draft.

But his pro day performance was a bit unsettling -- Bridgewater said it was because he didn't wear a glove like he normally does -- and this latest visit may just be a chance for Caldwell and Bradley to get another look at him.

Regardless of which quarterback the Jaguars take, or when they take him, Caldwell is not budging on Chad Henne as the starter heading into 2014. He wants the rookie to sit back and learn. Maybe it's Bridgewater.

Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Texans 

April, 17, 2014
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A fairly consistent message has emerged across mock drafts about the direction the Texans want to go with the No. 1 overall pick.

Does it mean they will? The day when we find out for sure is slowly approaching.

Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draftInsider, which accounts for Rounds 1 and 2, presents what I think might be a dream scenario for the Texans.

Jacksonville Jaguars mailbag

April, 12, 2014
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Got questions about the Jaguars? I'll try to answer a representative selection of them every Saturday. Submit your questions via Twitter to @ESPNdirocco.

Analyzing McShay mock 4.0: Jaguars 

April, 10, 2014
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The Jacksonville Jaguars have the third overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft after finishing 4-12 in 2013. With a roster in need of a significant upgrade, the Jaguars can take a best-available-player approach and still fill an area of need.

Todd McShay's fourth 2014 NFL mock draft Insider is out on ESPN Insider on Thursday and his choice means the Jaguars will fill one of their biggest needs.


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

In his column Tuesday, our Dan Graziano began with the question this blog asks, only in affirmative fashion.

SportsNation

Are the Texans in a lousy spot in this years draft?

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    27%
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    50%
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    23%

Discuss (Total votes: 2,284)

"The NFL draft is exactly one month away and, man, are the Houston Texans in a lousy spot," he writes.

He's not alone in that opinion and his rationale stems from his take on the quality of this year's quarterback crop. Graziano asserts that quarterback is, by far, the Texans' biggest need, and that there isn't an Andrew Luck in this year's draft.
"The quarterback class of 2014 is a collection of questions. Do you think you can turn a raw Blake Bortles into something special? Do you think Teddy Bridgewater is good enough to start right away? Can you get a Derek Carr or a Jimmy Garoppolo late in the first round or early in the second and expect to hit the lottery? And my goodness, what on earth do you make of Johnny Manziel?"

I present the question to you in poll form: Are the Texans in a bad spot?
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If the Jacksonville Jaguars don't take a quarterback with their first-round draft pick, they’re pretty much out of the running for Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles.

Carr
But there are plenty of other quarterbacks they can target, including former Fresno State standout Derek Carr -- whom the Jaguars will be playing host to on Wednesday, according to a league source.

Carr is among the group of quarterbacks most draft analysts rate just behind the Bridgewater/Manziel/Bortles trio. AJ McCarron, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Savage, and Zach Mettenberger also are in the group with Carr.

Some analysts believe Carr may actually be the best quarterback in the draft. ESPN’s Ashley Fox wrote about that on Saturday, and her reasoning makes a lot of sense. Unlike Manziel, Bortles and Garoppolo, Carr played in a pro-style offense at Fresno State -- for a year, anyway.

That was in 2011, when Carr played for coach Pat Hill, who also coached Carr’s older brother David, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft. Hill was fired after that season and was replaced by Tim DeRuyter, who ran a spread offense.

Fox writes that ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, a former director of pro personnel for the Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins, said teams evaluating Carr need to pop in 2011 tape to get an idea of how he fits in an NFL offense.

"If you limit your exposure to just 2013 or 2012, you're missing the boat," Riddick said. "If you limit yourself to 2012, you are missing 2011, when he ran a quote-unquote pro-style offense, which at a young age I thought he showed excellent proficiency given where he was developmentally at that time."

Jaguars general manager David Caldwell has said it's hard to evaluate college quarterbacks that played in spread offenses because you don't know if they can learn to stay in the pocket, make their reads and deliver the ball on time. That's especially true with Manziel.

The Jaguars coached Carr at the Senior Bowl in January and they liked what they saw. They're going to get a closer look on Wednesday.
There are a wide range of opinions about former Texans A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who will try to cement his place at the top of the draft class with today's workout, where he's apparently planning to wear a helmet and shoulder pads.

ESPN Insider Todd McShay watched a great deal of film on Manziel, writing a report he said is only matched in length by those he wrote about Cam Newton and Tim Tebow in previous years. His conclusion:
Manziel
I have Manziel ranked as the No. 3 quarterback in this class, behind UCF’s Blake Bortles and Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, and No. 21 prospect overall. The 90 grade I’ve given him qualifies as a late-first-round grade and is a few notches below Bortles (93) and Bridgewater (92) and several notches below the top three overall talents in this draft: Jadeveon Clowney (97), Greg Robinson (97) and Khalil Mack (96).

If a team is considering taking Manziel with a first-round pick, particularly near the top of the draft with five of the teams drafting in the top eight having a need at quarterback, the general manager, head coach and offensive coaching staff all have to be on board with taking him. They have to be legitimate believers to the point that they’re all willing to fall on the sword if Manziel fails.

In particular, the coaches must have a plan to develop him, from improving his mechanics (continuing what’s worked for Manziel with his private QB coach George Whitfield) to tweaking the playbook to maximize his improvisation skills and adjust to his unique methods of approaching progression reads, to creating a detailed schedule for what hours he needs to be in the building during the season and offseason. And everybody needs to be convinced that Manziel will get on board with said plan.

You can read McShay's full report in this insider piece Insider. He rates Manziel as average in mental makeup and accuracy, above average in release/arm strength, and exceptional in pocket mobility.
Earlier Thursday in a video, I wondered if the Tennessee Titans would make a move on a quarterback if one of the top three slipped to No. 11 in May's NFL draft.

ESPN draft gurus Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. touch on the same question in this podcast .

At around 20:30, their discussion turns to Tennessee and the 11th pick in the draft.

McShay says poor accuracy and decision-making offset Jake Locker’s best qualities. Locker is much more accurate under crisis and when he’s on the run than when he’s inside the pocket when things are clear and the picture is clear too, says McShay.

If Teddy Bridgewater is available when the 11th pick arrives, McShay would have no issue with the Titans tabbing him. That may not be their plan but plans have to shift on draft day based on what unfolds.

Kiper thinks the Titans are at a major crossroads. Beyond Locker, they have a laundry list of names that are at a point where we’ll find out if they’re decent or can make the jump to very good.

The Titans' roster is better than a lot of people give the team credit for, says McShay. It comes down to the quarterback as it does in so many situations.

“If you put Andrew Luck with this team, you’d be talking about a potential Super Bowl team,” McShay said.

McShay seems higher on the Titans overall than Kiper is.

There are some similarities to the Seattle Seahawks of a few years ago, McShay says. The Seahawks were building their offensive line and adding a lot of pieces and were ready to make a big jump when they found their quarterback in Russell Wilson.

Tennessee needs to take some chances while it looks to break in a quarterback this year and next.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- If the Jacksonville Jaguars were considering taking Teddy Bridgewater with the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft, they may be having second thoughts this afternoon.

It apparently wasn't a good day for Bridgewater, who struggled at his pro day workout on Monday. ESPN's Ron Jaworski and Todd McShay attended and neither was impressed with that they saw out of Bridgewater. Jaworski said he was disappointed in Bridgewater's accuracy and McShay said he didn't see the same effectiveness he did when studying Bridgewater's tape.

It's a bit surprising because Bridgewater is considered the most NFL-ready of the quarterbacks in the draft. However, it's not devastating. Guys have bad days. It happens. Bridgewater can redeem himself in private workouts.

Here's exactly what Jaworski and McShay had to say:

Jaworski: "I think if you talked to the six NFL coaches that were here, they came here probably feeling the same way we did: Teddy Bridgewater was the guy most ready for the NFL. But they wanted to see the ball come out of his hands. How did he spin the football? They've done all the tape study, just like we've done all the tape study. And really, when you watch Bridgewater today, he struggled with accuracy, he struggled with velocity on the deep throw and the sideline throws. And the one thing I thought was going to be his trademark was the accuracy -- and he struggled in areas. I think clearly, in this pro day workout, Teddy Bridgewater took a step backwards."

McShay: "In coming to these pro day workouts for 14-15 years, the vast majority of them, almost all of them, the QB ends up outperforming what you see on tape. There's no defense. There's no pass rush. You're in shorts and a T-shirt and it's a scripted workout that you've been working on for 30-40 days with your wide receiver. So to see Bridgewater come out here today and be the exception to the rule ... this is a rare occurrence for a QB in his pro day, who is not nearly as efficient and effective when he is when studying his tape.

"The question has to be why? And I just wonder ... maybe it's in his head that he's working on footwork things that I'm not sure that he should be working on. The bottom line is that he needs to be working on weight transfer, and getting his hips more involved with his upper body to drive the ball down the field. Big picture: The bottom line is that the teams drafting at the top, and there were general managers, head coaches, scouts, offensive coordinators from all of those teams here, they wanted to be wowed and they leave Louisville having not been wowed about what they saw."

Recapping Day 3 of free agency

March, 14, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Day 3 of free agency was busier than the first, with the Jacksonville Jaguars adding defensive end Chris Clemons, defensive lineman Ziggy Hood, and re-signing outside linebacker Jason Babin. Clemons and Hood received four-year deals, and Babin signed a three-year deal.

Here are some initial thoughts from Day 3:

Hood
Hood
It will be interesting to see what kind of production the Jaguars get from Hood, who really wasn't much of a factor as a defensive end in Pittsburgh. The Jaguars are going to use him as a three-technique defensive tackle, which is where he played at Missouri and recorded 14.5 sacks in four seasons. The Jaguars want him to help provide interior pass rush, which is something they got from Sen'Derrick Marks last season. It wouldn't be surprising to see him, Dekoda Watson, Clemons and Babin on the field on some third downs.

Clemons gives the Jaguars something they haven't had in a while: a speed rusher. Though he turns 33 in October, Clemons still appears to be playing at a high level. His 4.5 sacks last were a significant drop-off from the 11.5 he had in 2012, but he was returning from a torn ACL suffered in the 2012 playoffs. He said Thursday that it wasn't until the playoff game against New Orleans this past season that he finally felt he was back to the player he was in 2012. He, Babin and Andre Branch should split reps.

Now that the Jaguars have re-worked their defensive front and added pass-rushers in Clemons and Watson, does their plan for the draft change? If GM David Caldwell was thinking of taking Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack, does he now consider Sammy Watkins, one of the quarterbacks, or even one of the offensive tackles? I don't think so -- at this point, anyway. There are still pro days and workouts ahead -- Teddy Bridgewater throws Monday -- and the Jaguars will continue to evaluate players until they come up with their final draft rankings. One thing to consider, though: The draft isn't deep in pass-rushers, but it is on the offensive side, especially at receiver.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Jaguars

March, 13, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s prediction in his third mock draft Insider that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take defensive end Jadeveon Clowney with the No. 3 overall pick in the upcoming draft is not surprising. He made the same forecast in his first two mock drafts. It's the pick that makes the most sense.

The Jaguars do need a quarterback and in Kiper's scenario Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles are available, but general manager David Caldwell has dropped several hints that he doesn't believe any of them are a franchise quarterback.

Caldwell has said rookie quarterbacks generally aren't ready to play right away. There are exceptions, such as Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck and Matt Ryan, but those players didn't leave school early and played in pro-style offenses in college. He also has said Chad Henne, who signed a two-year extension last week, can keep the team afloat with better offensive line play and more weapons.

The Jaguars worked on both of those issues early in free agency by signing guard Zane Beadles and running back Toby Gerhart. They are expected to add at least one more offensive lineman and possibly a receiver before the draft, as well.

So Clowney, whom many regard as the best player in the draft, is the natural pick. He fills an immediate need and upgrades a pass rush that finished last in the NFL in each of the past two seasons. He's ridiculously athletic and exceptionally quick (4.53 40-yard dash, including a 10-yard split of 1.56 seconds) for a 6-foot-5, 266-pound end.

Some have concerns about his work ethic and motivation, but those issues are being overblown. Clowney is a freak who can dominate a game.

And consider this: Since the Jaguars will play six games against the AFC South it's important the team is built to handle those opponents. The Indianapolis Colts are the best team in the division because of Luck so the Jaguars need to be able to deal with them twice a year.

Clowney is the first piece.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: Jaguars

March, 13, 2014
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ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has been consistent in which player he believes the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to take with the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft.

In his first mock draft he predicted the Jaguars would bypass a quarterback and instead select defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.

In his second mock draft he had the Jaguars taking ... Clowney.

We’ll find out if he has changed his mind in his third mock draft Insider when it is released late Thursday morning.

The Jaguars had one of the least-talented rosters in 2013 and general manager David Caldwell and coach Gus Bradley still have a lot of work ahead before that improves. They have needs everywhere, but the two biggest are undoubtedly quarterback and pass-rusher, and it seems likely the Jaguars will take one of those two positions with their first pick.

The team signed quarterback Chad Henne to a two-year contract on March 7 and Bradley promptly named him the starter for the 2014 season. He said the ideal situation would be for whichever quarterback the team drafted -- whether it was in the first round or later -- to spend time learning behind Henne. The young quarterback might not even take a snap in 2014.

That would seem to indicate the Jaguars won't be likely to take Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater or Blake Bortles in the first round. Players taken that high need to make an immediate impact, and that won't happen if they're sitting on the bench.

However, Clowney or linebacker Khalil Mack would instantly make the Jaguars better on defense. The pass rush has been among the worst in the league the past two seasons (51 sacks, including 20 in 2012) and Clowney is regarded as the best pass-rusher in the draft. Mack, who is a perfect fit for the Jaguars' hybrid end/linebacker spot, had one of the most impressive workouts at the NFL combine and is rising up draft boards.

However, the Jaguars do need help at receiver, too. Maybe Sammy Watkins could be the player Kiper believes the Jaguars will pick.

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