Friday, June 28, 2013
Rising stock of Teddy Bridgewater
By Rob Nelson
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsThe 2013 college football season has the potential to be one of the greatest quarterback classes ever. Eight of the top 10 teams in last year’s final AP Poll return their starting quarterbacks, and every conference except the Big 12 returns either their first- or second-team quarterbacks from last season.
NFL teams will have their eyes on Teddy Bridgewater leading up to the 2014 NFL Draft.
In preparation for the 2013 season, ESPN Stats & Info will take a deeper look at the top QBs entering the fall. Friday, we look at Teddy Bridgewater.
A Look Back at 2012
Bridgewater led the Louisville Cardinals to an 11-2 record last season, and earned MVP honors in a 33-23 victory over the third-ranked Florida Gators in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. According to Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, Bridgewater is the top quarterback prospect for the 2014 NFL Draft.
How did Bridgewater go from an unknown freshman in 2011 to the No. 1 quarterback prospect?
Downfield passing: Bridgewater completed a pass of 15 or more yards on 20 percent of his attempts in 2012, up from 16 percent in 2011. Bridgewater averaged 8.9 yards per attempt last season, seventh-best in FBS among quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts.
Ball protection: As a sophomore in 2012, Bridgewater threw an interception once every 52.4 pass attempts. During his freshman season he threw a pick once every 24.7 pass attempts, the ninth-worst rate in FBS out of 115 qualifying quarterbacks.
Third-down passing: Bridgewater excelled on third downs last season. When he threw a pass, it resulted in a first down 50.9 percent of the time, second-best in FBS behind Johnny Manziel (51.9 percent). Only three players in FBS last season had more completions of 15 yards or more on third down than Bridgewater, who completed 27 such passes.
What’s Ahead for 2013?
The biggest obstacle for Bridgewater and the Cardinals in 2013 might be pass protection, or the lack thereof. In two seasons at Louisville, Bridgewater has been sacked 61 times, ninth-most in FBS. In the Cardinals final three games last season, Bridgewater was sacked 12 times, including five in the Sugar Bowl.
Bridgewater struggled most when opponents sent extra pressure. He was sacked on 9.2 percent of designed pass plays when blitzed and threw an interception once every 24 pass attempts. On designed passing plays when opponents sent four or fewer rushers, Bridgewater was sacked 4.7 percent of the time and threw a pick once every 169 pass attempts.
If Bridgewater can continue to improve in his junior season and handle pressure more effectively, the possibilities are endless - first quarterback selected in the 2014 NFL Draft, an undefeated season (Louisville has the 90th-toughest schedule in FBS this season based on 2012 records) and maybe even Louisville's first Heisman Trophy winner.