Greg Jennings: Bridgewater better fit

Updated: May 9, 2014, 5:10 PM ET
By Ben Goessling | ESPN.com

MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Minnesota Vikings were on the clock in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday night, first with the eighth and then the ninth overall pick after a trade, there was plenty of intrigue about whether the team would make Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel its quarterback of the future.

Had the Vikings done that, it would have surprised wide receiver Greg Jennings.

In an interview after his speaking engagement at the Minneapolis Convention Center on Friday morning, Jennings said he didn't think Manziel would wind up with the Vikings, "just because I know the personality of Coach [Mike] Zimmer."

"I truly believe that given any player, if they're willing to work and willing to be better, that these two coaches [Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner] -- two, literally, head coaches that we have on both sides of the ball -- they can make anybody better," Jennings said. "I just didn't think -- which was probably what their thought was -- that Manziel fit what we were trying to get done, personality-wise.

"When you're making a coaching change, and you're raising the bar of accountability and you look at the past history -- it's tough, because you never want to hold anybody to that. You always want to continue to give somebody the benefit of the doubt. But when you're investing the amount of money these owners and these clubs are investing, that carries a lot of weight."

Minnesota took former UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr at No. 9.

A coach who had seen the team's draft board told ESPN's Bob Holtzman that Manziel was Minnesota's top-ranked quarterback, followed closely by Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, for whom the Vikings eventually traded up to take at No. 32.

A team source confirmed to Holtzman that the Vikings did try to trade up to take Manziel, and Fox Sports reported on Thursday that the team nearly had a deal in place for the Philadelphia Eagles' pick at No. 22 before the Cleveland Browns came in to trade for the pick and take Manziel.

The Vikings seemed thrilled to wind up with Bridgewater, whom Jennings believes will be a better fit.

"What I know about him is, he's a hard worker, he's a smart kid and he wants to get better," Jennings said. "Just that alone, it makes you want to work with someone."

Bridgewater likely will start the season behind Matt Cassel, and Jennings said there could be no better situation for a young quarterback.

"If I were a quarterback, I would want Matt to be my teacher," Jennings said. "I would want to be behind a guy like Matt, because he approaches the game like a true professional. He's not afraid of helping those who are pursuing his position. He's just not. His makeup is, 'Look, if we can all be better, our team is going to get better.'"

Jennings was speaking at the "A Call to Coaches" conference in downtown Minneapolis, where he talked to a group of several hundred youth, high school and college coaches about the impact they can have -- good or bad -- on young athletes' lives.

Even in the NFL, Jennings said, the effects of those coaches are evident.

"In that kind of environment, in that locker room environment, you get guys who had a coach that never really coached them," Jennings said. "And then you have some who had a coach that was more like a dad. And you can tell. That's typically how it is -- it's either one or the other. It's never anything in between. It's either, 'They just were my coach,' or, 'Man, I looked at him like a dad.'"

Ben Goessling

ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter

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