Teddy Bridgewater's rookie season turned some heads. After a pro day that nearly caused him to fall out of the first round, Bridgewater proved he was the most NFL-ready quarterback in last year's NFL Draft.
After throwing for 2,919 yards and 14 touchdowns as a rookie and leading the Vikings to a 6-6 record in those starts, Bridgewater was voted Rookie of the Year by fans and it looks like the Vikings may have finally found their franchise quarterback.
ESPN Insider has named Bridgewater as the top "second-year breakout candidate" in the league.
"He's very poised and never gets rattled," one NFL coach told ESPN about Bridgewater. "He has enough mobility to avoid pressure in the pocket."
Bridgewater's promising start is welcomed by the Vikings. 1500 ESPN's Andrew Krammer notes that Minnesota has used eight different starting quarterbacks since 2010.
"A franchise quarterback in place allows general manager Rick Spielman to prioritize other needs in free agency and the draft, which should help improve the level of play around Bridgewater. Part of the quarterback hype stems from Bridgewater's ability to navigate a .500 record last season despite struggles of No. 1 receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and left tackle Matt Kalil as well as crippling injuries to guard Brandon Fusco, tight end Kyle Rudolph and tackle Phil Loadholt."
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer told reporters during the NFL meetings last week that he was impressed with Bridgewater's calm demonstrative leadership last season.
"We were fortunate to get Teddy in so many ways," Zimmer said. "I love being around his demeanor. The veterans love being around how he has a calming influence, the way he works and does things. We lost a guard, we lost the tight end and this happens in football, so I'm not making excuses, but for him to come in at the end of the year and play with kind of a make-shift crew if you will and do the things he did, I think everybody on the team and everybody in the organization was impressed with him."
Bridgewater, who was drafted after both Blake Bortels and Johnny Manziel, is the only quarterback on ESPN's list. It also includes:
- RB Carlos Hyde, San Francisco
- RB Tre Mason, St. Louis
- LB Aaron Lynch, San Francisco
- OL Joel Bitonio, Cleveland
- DE DeMarcus Lawrence, Dallas
- WR Allen Robinson, Jacksonville
- DE Stephon Tuitt, Pittsburgh