Shawn Burns is the latest addition to the NFL’s Future team. Shawn comes to us via Mario Cristobal’s staff at Florida International, where he served as Director of Football Relations. Shawn kicks off his NFL’s Future career with a view across the field from one of the top collegiate players – Teddy Bridgewater.
My first memory of Teddy Bridgewater was seeing him dominate high school football in Miami- Dade County. He was the quarterback of the powerhouse Miami Northwestern Bulls, better known as “The West” in Miami. It looked like he was going to stay home and play at the University of Miami, but everything changed when Randy Shannon was let go as head coach after the 2010 season. Bridgewater chose to play at Louisville under Charlie Strong.
His freshman season he started out as a backup and did not start until the fourth game of the season. During the early stages of the 2011 season, FIU traveled to Louisville and shocked the Cardinals mainly due to T.Y. Hilton who could not be stopped and took over the game. This was an early sign of the talent Hilton showed during the 2012 season as an all-Rookie performer with the Indianapolis Colts. I was a staff member on the FIU Panthers in 2011 and looking back on the joy of the win that put FIU on the map, I realized we were lucky that night that Bridgewater was not on the field.
The following season we played Louisville again, but this time in Miami. Hilton was no longer on the team but we still had a talented defense with two soon to be NFL draft picks. On the field that night I saw a player who had the potential to be a starter and possibly an elite talent at the next level. He was 6’3, over 200lbs, and looked like he still had room to grow. Teddy Bridgewater had great command of the huddle and I got the feeling players respected him and his natural ability to lead. He had above-average arm strength and was very fluid with his drops and footwork. His offense in high school was mostly a spread gun offense, so his ability to be fluid in his drops at this stage of his career was very impressive. He was an effortless athlete who could run if needed, but would rather stay in the pocket. He had above-average speed for the QB position, but was not a burner. He had a quiet confidence about him, was extremely tough and hung in the pocket willing to take a hit. When the lights came on he was ready to play. He was a gamer.
Bridgewater is without a doubt one of the best QB’s in the nation, but despite all the potential I saw that night he struggled throughout the game. It was arguably his worst game of the season. He threw two interceptions and was inconsistent throughout. He only completed a little over 50% of his passes, and made some poor reads. The defensive line put on some pressure, and that was all it took to disrupt his rhythm. The wet weather likely played a part, and he might have been a little off his game due to it being his first college game in front of family and friends in Miami. All that said, he still accounted for 3 TD’s and made a huge scramble at the end of the game to seal the victory.
I left the field that day impressed with the potential of Bridgewater but felt he still had a lot of room for improvement. Bridgewater is a very talented prospect, but at this point in the process, a top 5 pick is high in my book. The good news is Bridgewater has all the skills, and has great talent around him to possibly launch himself into the top of the draft next April, maybe just not that high.