Johnny Manziel is a headline magnet, attracting attention wherever he goes. At the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, his time in the 40-yard dash, his interviews and every word uttered about him by NFL personnel evaluators seemed to dominate the news out of Indianapolis.
But if there is truly a quarterback made for the Raiders’ needs, it would seem to be Teddy Bridgewater of Louisville.
Bridgewater, who wore No. 5 for the Cardinals, might be an automatic, no-lose selection for Oakland in the fifth spot of the draft.
As NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said recently, Bridgewater is the “most NFL-ready” quarterback in the draft.
For a team like Oakland, with holes to fill across its offensive and defensive lineups after consecutive 4-12 seasons, Bridgewater would seem to be the quarterback at the top of the draft who would be most capable of surviving and eventually thriving for a franchise that is still struggling to get back to respectability.
While he doesn’t match the size of Central Florida prospect Blake Bortles or have the amazing, off-the-cuff playmaking skills of Manziel, Bridgewater offers good size and movement, accuracy, dependability and a long history of high-level performance for Louisville. As Mayock noted, Bridgewater offers “pretty much everything you want to see” from his play on film, including terrific accuracy.
“I love the accuracy on the run,” Mayock said.
In fact, that’s what Bridgewater believes separates him as the No. 1 prospect among top quarterbacks in the draft.
“The biggest thing, I think, is my accuracy,” he said at the Combine. “This past season I was able to complete 71 percent of my passes. My third-down passing completion percentage was pretty much off the charts, my pocket presence, I’m a competitor. Each day I go out there and I’m eager to learn. I remain a student of the game, and I think that right there just separates me.”
The question is, will Bridgewater still be around when the Raiders use their No. 5 pick?
Most mock drafts have Bridgewater being taken by one of the three teams ahead of the Raiders in the draft order that needs a quarterback – the Texans at No. 1, the Jaguars at No. 3 or the Browns at No. 4.
But at the Combine, the Raiders brass made sure to spend time with Bridgewater, just in case they get a shot at him. And Bridgewater told Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle that he had a “great meeting” with the Raiders.
“Everyone was in there from the owner to the general manager, head coach, offensive coordinator,” Bridgewater told Tafur. “It was a great meeting, a lot of energy, a lot of smiles, laughs.”
Bridgewater declined to throw or run the 40 at the Combine, but will do both at his pro day. The Raiders will be paying attention.
But as much as he enjoyed the visit with the Raiders, Bridgewater has said he believes he should be the No. 1 pick in the entire draft. That would put him in Houston with the Texans.
“Oh yes, no doubt, I feel that I’m the best quarterback in this draft,” Bridgewater said. “I’m a competitor.”