INDIANAPOLIS – Teddy Bridgewater will spend the next 2½ months trying to convince NFL scouts he’s the No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 player in this year’s draft.
Tajh Boyd is just itching to show scouts he’s still the quarterback they once thought he could be.
Yes, the two college stars were on opposite ends of the spectrum at the combine. While Boyd’s draft stock plummeted over the past four months, Bridgewater’s confidence is booming as he appears to be locking himself into the top 10.
“I feel that I’m the best quarterback in this draft,” he said at his weekend’s NFL scouting combine. “I’m not just going to sit up here and say it, there’s obviously actions that have to back up these words. I’m just going to go out there and prove that I’m the best guy.”
Scouts will have to wait to see if Bridgewater can live up to the boasts.
He never planned to throw during Sunday’s workouts at Lucas Oil Stadium and also pulled out of the 40-yard dash one day after telling reporters he would run.
But that hasn’t hurt Bridgewater yet.
He measured in at 6-foot-2, 214 pounds, good size for an NFL quarterback with room to even add a few more pounds. And despite questions about hand size, Bridgewater’s completion percentage and touchdown passes continued to steadily increase each of the past three seasons at the same time his interception totals declined.
Teams searching for a new franchise quarterback, such as Houston, which has the top pick in May, will spend these next 10 weeks trying to determine who to take in this three-man race – Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.
“I haven’t studied him (Bridgewater) enough, and coming from defense, I don’t consider myself a quarterback expert,” said Browns coach Mike Pettine, whose team also is looking at a quarterback at No. 4. “I know what good ones look like, but as far as graduate level details, I will lean on the offensive staff.”
Boyd, however, has the tougher job – reintroducing himself to scouts.
Last fall, Boyd was a potential first-round draft choice. But after going 17 of 37 for 156 yards with only one touchdown and two interceptions against eventual national champion Florida State on national television, the perceptions changed.
NFL teams started picking apart Boyd’s flaws, which Boyd is still struggling to understand.
“Coming into the season I was a top 15 pick supposedly,” he said. “Now you’re hearing this and that and nobody really knows. So I’m just trying to come out here and do what I can. Honestly, I don’t feel like there’s a quarterback here better than me, so that’s what I want to come out here and do.”
Sunday’s workout didn’t help.
Boyd was timed at 4.84 seconds in the 40-yard dash, finishing ahead of eight of the 16 quarterbacks who ran Sunday, and looked inaccurate during the throwing part of the workouts. He’ll need a much better showing at Clemson’s pro day to restore some of the luster lost after he returned to school for his final college season.
“I feel like I’m maturing in every aspect of my game,” Boyd said. “I feel like I went and did what I wanted to do. The big thing for me was making sure that I was ready for this transition.”
But for Bridgewater, there’s more at stake – a big contract, a chance to live out his lifelong dream of playing in the NFL and, of course, the opportunity to prove he’s the No. 1 quarterback in the draft.
“They’ve watched the film. They’ve studied who I am as a player,” Bridgewater said. “But it’s all about getting in those (team interview) rooms and establishing a relationship as a person, and I feel that I’ve been doing well doing that.”