Which player should the Jacksonville Jaguars take with the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft? That's a question that GM David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley are trying to answer before the first round on Thursday. Not that they're asking, but I'm here to offer some help. Every day until the first round I'll argue for a certain player. We're going to go with the caveat that each of the players is available when the Jaguars make their selection.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars shouldn't care about a poor pro day.
They shouldn't care that at 214 pounds he's a little slight for his 6-foot-3 frame.
They shouldn't care that he likes to wear a glove when he throws.
Just turn on the tape of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and that should assuage any concerns about taking him with the No. 3 overall pick.
Turn on two games in particular: the Allstate Sugar Bowl against Florida and the Russell Athletic Bowl against Miami. The Gators had the nation's No. 2 pass efficiency defense, the No. 5 total defense, and No. 5 scoring defense but Bridgewater shredded them for 266 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-23 upset. He was even better against Miami, throwing for 447 yards and three touchdowns and running for another in the Cardinals' 36-9 romp.
Bridgewater played some of his best football in the two biggest games in which he played in college. In front of national television audiences with NFL personnel watching closely, Bridgewater put his team on his shoulders and won big.
Sounds like the kind of guy NFL teams should want.
And yet, the poor pro day showing has hurt him with some draft analysts. Probably even a few general managers, too. It is concerning that he didn't flourish in a situation that was crafted for him to do so, but it's only one day. Everybody has bad days.
But put on the tape and there should be no reservations about Bridgewater. There are some bad throws and bad decisions, 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.
"Put on the game tape," Bridgewater said in an ESPN interview. "The game tape speaks volumes because I'm in live action, I'm out there making reads, going through progressions, redirection protection, signaling hot routes, getting the offense in and out of the right play. Looking at those things, I think those things outweigh the pro day."
There's one other thing to see on tape that should mollify Bridgewater's detractors, namely the ones who feel he's not tough enough or physically capable of handling the pounding he's sure to receive in the NFL.
Go back to the Sugar Bowl game against Florida with about 12:30 remaining in the first quarter. Bridgewater rolls to his right and releases the ball a split second before linebacker Jon Bostic absolutely lays him out with a hit under the chin. The 246-pound Bostic -- a 2013 second-round pick by Chicago -- knocks Bridgewater's helmet off and drives him backward several yards.
Bridgewater gets right back up and never missed a play.
The Jaguars can't miss by taking him.