First round draft picks in the NFL draw a great deal of attention to their respective organizations every year. Teddy Bridgewater has done just that when the Minnesota Vikings selected him with the 32nd pick of the first round in the 2014 NFL Draft. Perhaps much of the attention Bridgewater has received is due to his position.
As a quarterback, Bridgewater is coming into an organization in Minnesota that struggled to find a go to guy to take the snaps in 2013. The 2012 Big East offensive player of the year and 2013 Sugar Bowl MVP during his college days at Louisville, Bridgewater carries the expectations of a big time player. Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, and Josh Freeman all competed for the starting job last season, though none were overly impressive, leaving the door open for Bridgewater to earn some serious minutes.
“It’s not a secret.” Running back Adrian Peterson said. “The quarterback position really hasn’t played well, but that’s why you bring guys in.”
But there are no guarantees for Bridgewater. Matt Cassel is expected to start the season as the first quarterback on the depth chart, though the Vikings coaching staff has said nothing is set as of now.
“I haven’t been paying attention to that.” said Bridgewater. “I’ve just been learning the playbook and trying to familiarize myself with the playbook and try and continue to get better each day.”
Since training camp began last Thursday, Bridgewater has been excellent on the field and purely professional off the field. Though his goal is to become a starting quarterback in the NFL, the 21 year old from Miami is more concerned with first making himself a better player, and battling for a starting job second.
“I have to compete with myself first, that will make me a better player. Then I can compete with the guys in the room. That will make the team better.”
Pretty humble for a guy who was in the discussion to be a no. 1 pick in the NFL draft a little over a year ago.
After garnering the Sugar Bowl MVP during the 2012 season, Bridgewater threw for 3,970 yards in 2013 with a 71 percent completion rate and 31 touchdowns. Though the Vikings were a team in obvious need of a quarterback when the 2014 NFL Draft came in June, their first selection in the first round went to UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr. Later in the draft, Minnesota traded their 2nd and 4th round picks to the Seattle Seahawks for the 32nd pick of the first round to bring a new quarterback to the land of purple and gold.
To begin his NFL career in Minnesota, Bridgewater inked a four year contract worth $6.85 million that included a $3.3 million signing bonus. Over the course of last weekend, the young quarterback became more familiar with the coaching styles he will be playing under this season.
“It’s been intense. Coach Zimmer runs a fast, up tempo practice.” Bridgewater said. “Like Zimmer, Coach Turner is very hands on. He likes everything to be perfect, which is good.”
Though Cassel may look to be the no. 1 quarterback when the Vikings kick off the regular season in St. Louis in September, Bridgewater will be working hard to earn his place in the lineup.
“I’m going to look over the playbook, look over film, and work to correct my mistakes.” said Bridgewater.
“My biggest goal is to not make the same mistake twice.”