A few months back, if you had said any other QB besides Teddy Bridgewater would go #1 overall or be the first QB off the board, people would have called you crazy. Now, as scouts continue to talk themselves into Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel, there is speculation Bridgewater could fall out of the 1st round entirely.
I believe this is hogwash. Bortles and Manziel both could turn out to be viable pro QBs, but neither is as pro ready as Teddy Bridgewater. Johnny Manziel is the most high variance QB prospect we've seen in years. His ceiling is a more accurate Michael Vick, or he could improvise himself out of the league.
While Johnny Football could develop in time, at this point in his career he is a QB who needs to see a player open before delivering the throw. He's quick to abandon the pocket and take off when he doesn't see anyone open. Neither of these qualities will work in the NFL. He'll be able to rustle up a big play or two, but will also be an injury prone turnover machine. Any team drafting him with intentions of putting him directly in the lineup will regret it.
Blake Bortles has scouts smitten because of his size (6'4", 229) and his style as a pocket passer. For lack of a better way to put it, he simply looks like an NFL QB. All the infatuation with his size and style of play ignores that he has poor footwork, sloppy mechanics, a tendency to push his deep throws rather than follow through, and played in a run heavy offense in college. UCF's success was predicated through the ground game, and Bortles was rarely asked to make NFL caliber throws.
He's this year's Ryan Tannehill or Blaine Gabbert, a guy who did not stand out during the season, but that scouts are now talking up. While Tannehill has showed some flashes and could end up as a quality starter, it's no sure thing. Gabbert washed out so badly in Jacksonville, he lost his starting job to the immortal Chad Henne and the 49ers were able to grab him for a 6th round pick.
This brings us to Bridgewater. While Louisville did not face elite competition, Bridgewater shined when given the chance. In the 2013 Sugar Bowl, he put the underdog Cardinals on his back against Florida's pass defense, which was #1 in the nation. All he did was throw for 266 yards, 2 TDs and win the game's MVP award. Against Miami in this year's Russell Athletic Bowl, he topped himself by throwing for 447 yards and 3 TDs, nabbing another MVP award in the process.
Bridgewater showed a penchant for making line of scrimmage adjustments, fitting the ball into tight windows, and making anticipation throws. While Bortles and Manziel may make it to that point eventually, neither of has shown those kinds of talents. He also has a quick delivery, great footwork, and a high football IQ.
If Cleveland, Jacksonville or Minnesota does not make Bridgewater their selection and goes with the more flashy Johnny Football or the recently ascendant Bortles, it will be a decision that haunts their franchises for seasons to come.