Charles Davis: Success of Teddy Bridgewater is no mirage

All eyes Thursday night will be on junior Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater as the Cardinals host Rutgers. I think everyone -- including the NFL evaluators in attendance -- will like what they see.

When I watch him play, I see a guy in charge of his team. I see a field general who can get it done in any system and make every throw. He's strong, accurate, efficient and mobile.

His numbers -- 312.4 passing yards per game, 71.7 percent completion rate, 16 touchdowns and only one interception -- are impressive, but there are questions about just how legitimate those stats are given the level of competition Bridgewater faces in the American Athletic Conference. After all, the combined record of the teams he has played this season is just 9-17.

Is Bridgewater the real deal or is this all one big mirage?

NFL general managers will be asking the same question about him. They will want him to prove something more in the evaluation process whether he enters the draft after this season or next. They're a little less accepting of the numbers and of the wins when a quarterback has not consistently faced well-respected defenses.

The thing is, we have seen Bridgewater tested by tough competition. Go back and watch the tape of his performance against Florida in last season's Sugar Bowl, when he led the No. 23 Cardinals to a stunning upset of No. 4 Florida. Last month he led a 14-point win over Kentucky, which gave No. 14 South Carolina about all it could handle last week.

I don't think there are any question marks for the Louisville signal-caller. Level of competition should not be the issue that people are making it out to be.

That argument will become moot when teams go to the player and do their homework. Does he process well? What about his size? Does he have enough arm strength? How about his mental acuity? I'm getting reports back that he gets high marks for all of these things.

He's got the goods, and that's what teams really are most concerned about. They'll get past the level of competition if they think he has the tools to get them where they want to go.

It's really about the makeup of that player, and I think Bridgewater has the makeup that teams desire.

We've seen people make the so-called "jump" to the NFL and it's worked out pretty well for them. Joe Flacco (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada) and Andy Dalton (TCU) are just a few of the names that come to mind. We heard the same questions about them that we are hearing, and probably will continue to hear, about Bridgewater.

His slate of opponents is not dynamic, but to me, the answer is loud and clear -- Bridgewater is legit.

Under-the-radar RB

Get to know Western Kentucky running back Antonio Andrews. Every week I feel like I'm reading about him producing big numbers and powering his team. He leads the nation in rushing yards (882) heading into Week 7.

Andrews reminds me of former Hilltoppers RB Bobby Rainey, who is now with the Cleveland Browns. They have a lot of similar attributes, but I think Andrews is better than Rainey. He can do it all.

Week 7 matchup to watch

I am excited to see this weekend's matchup between Georgia QB Aaron Murray and Missouri CB E.J. Gaines. The Tigers are undefeated, and Gaines is a high-level corner. He's big, long and can run. Murray is playing at a high level, but he's going to have to play at an even higher level because he has a couple receivers banged up and his top two running backs are hurt. Murray is changing perceptions that he can't win big games with each week. Maybe his grittiest one was last week against Tennessee in overtime. Evaluators are looking at the senior quarterback in a different light.

Follow Charles Davis on Twitter @CFD22.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content