Will Bridgewater fall to Patriots at No. 29?

Will Bridgewater fall to Patriots at No. 29?
May 2, 2014, 10:00 am
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There might not be a player in the 2014 draft class who elicits opinions as polarizing as the ones offered on quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Josh Norris of Rotoword has him ranked as his top player in the draft.

Others, including NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, have Bridgewater falling to the second round. Mayock held a conference call with members of the media on Thursday and gave his take on the Louisville signal-caller.

"I am questioning arm strength, I am questioning accuracy," Mayock said. "I watched him take three sacks consecutively against I think it was the University of South Florida. His stats were outstanding in that game. He threw the ball well, but he took three sacks I couldn't stand. It bothered me that he took those sacks."

Mayock puts the utmost value in what he sees on film, and originally he liked what he saw from Bridgewater. Yet, Bridgewater struggled so much at his pro day, it made Mayock re-consider his stance.

"I didn't think he was as athletic," Mayock said of Bridgewater. "He's a narrow-framed guy. So it was one instance where I struggle tape versus live, and I think a bunch of teams feel the same way. I've talked to teams that have been unnerved by it."

Mayock said he knew Bridgewater was nervous during his pro day because he didn't see that Bridgewater had "adequate-to-good" arm strength, and he didn't see sufficient accuracy from Bridgewater.

In 10 or 11 years, Mayock said, it's the first time he has changed a grade on a player because of a poor pro day performance.

Bridgewater's inconsistency has lent to questions about his makeup. While he has come off as a solid character guy, he hasn't necessarily overwhelmed with the swagger of an NFL-star-to-be, according to Mayock.

"With Bridgewater, I don't feel an 'it' factor," he said. "I see a really good kid. But I don't know if he's ready to be the guy. Because of that, I think he's going to need at least a year to get used to that environment. He needs a redshirt year, in other words. If you need a redshirt year, you're probably going to get drafted at a different level. So that's a long way of saying that the Bridgewater thing has confused me, it's confused teams. But I'd be surprised at this point if he goes in the first round."

If that's the case, the Patriots will have a shot at Bridgewater with the 29th pick. They have reportedly had him in for a visit, but would they be willing to take him as Tom Brady's eventual successor at the end of the first round?

Based on Mayock's comments, New England would seem to be a decent landing spot for Bridgewater. Clearly he'd have a chance to redshirt, and by watching Tom Brady, he'd get a tutorial in how to run a team, how to be "the guy," as Mayock put it.

Might the Patriots be willing to spend their first-round pick on a quarterback? From this perspective, there are enough needs at other positions -- and enough top-end talent at different positions in this draft class -- that New England would find better value going in a different direction.

But if the Patriots believe Bridgewater has what it takes to be Brady's successor whenever Brady's time in New England comes to a close, there appears to be a chance that Bridgewater will slip far enough that they'll have a chance to draft him.