When the Vikings traded up into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater, they knew their quarterback of the future would spend his first two seasons in Minnesota playing outdoors at oft-frigid TCF Bank Stadium.
Amid draftniks' concerns over Bridgewater's 9 1/4-inch hand size and questionable ability to drive the ball deep against the elements, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman says the team's two-year pact to play outdoors didn't "enter in at all" during Minnesota's pursuit of a passer who completed 71 percent of his throws as a senior at Louisville, according to The Star Tribune.
Is the cold a concern? Bridgewater has never made a start in subfreezing temperatures, but he's shown well in 11 starts in games under 50 degrees. In those tilts, Bridgewater completed 63 percent of his throws and posted a 20:9 touchdown-to-pick ratio while seeing his total quarterback rating dip to 66.9 from a 71.0 mark in warmer games, per ESPN.com.
The coldest start he made came in a 34-degree affair against Connecticut in 2012. In that 23-20 Louisville loss, Bridgewater's QBR dipped to 55.1 -- down from his 77.3 season average -- but he still threw for 331 yards and two touchdowns while playing through a broken left wrist.
NFL Media's Nolan Nawrocki believes Bridgewater is better suited to a warm-weather or dome environment, but the rookie is widely seen as one of the smartest quarterbacks in this year's class. The Vikings won't have to keep the training wheels strapped on for long.
Draft analyst Matt Waldman said the cool-under-pressure Bridgewater "has the skills to be the most productive rookie of this crop with as much upside as any of his peers," adding that he has Johnny Manziel-like on-field imagination "with a better governor over his limitations." Scouts have noted Bridgewater's decreased velocity and accuracy on passes beyond 35 yards, but proven quarterback tutor Norv Turner will build this attack around Bridgewater's upside.
Playing in the elements isn't a picnic for any NFL starter. The Vikings have done their homework and believe Bridgewater can handle Mother Nature, as does the determined Bridgewater, who said: "I think we'll be able to use that to our advantage here in Minnesota. It's a mental thing and I'll just block it out and continue to play."