Did Bridgewater slide? He doesn't see it that way, which can only help
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When Teddy Bridgewater started to hear the hype about being the best player in the 2014 NFL Draft, he said his agent was quick to bring him back to reality.
Who says you're the No. 1 pick?
That humbling ego check helped put things in perspective for Bridgewater. He said after his introductory press conference that he was more focused during the season about proving why he should be the top quarterback. Rather than feeling like he was defending the title belt, he had the mind to go after it.
Bridgewater disagreed - publicly anyway - with the notion that he suffered a slide in Thursday's first round of the NFL Draft. He credited his agent with helping to instill that mindset.
It's funny how our perceptions change over time.
Johnny Manziel slid in the draft. Anthony Barr was a reach. Bridgewater slid from the No. 1 pick to a fringe first rounder.
While each of these statements could be true, most of us have no way of knowing the truth about where any of these players appeared on NFL team's draft boards in November. I'm a proponent of adjusting our beliefs in the face of new information, yet it seems that some of our perception changed somewhat arbitrarily after the college season ended.
Bridgewater achieved his stated goal of being drafted in the first round, although he was just the third QB taken on Day One, behind Blake Bortles (No. 3) and Johnny Manziel (No. 22).
He did say during his introductory press conference that he's going to draw motivation from the fact that the other 31 NFL teams had a chance to draft him and declined. He reverted to the line about 'playing with a chip on your shoulder.'
But Bridgewater also said later that he was able to relax on draft day, perhaps in part because he had done everything he could to control the outcome. The rest was out of his hands.
"It wasn't tough at all," Bridgewater said at his press conference Friday at Winter Park. "My mindset was worry about the things you can control. Throughout this entire process I've been able to meet great coaches, great owners, but none like the Minnesota Vikings. This entire process has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I really enjoyed it."
Now, it's unlikely Bridgewater would admit to being bitter about a perceived 'slide' if he felt slighted by it. But it seems he had the right frame of mind about how much he should buy into the hype.
And if that's truly the way he views things, it would serve him well. He is, after all, the Vikings' quarterback of the future. That carries a tremendous amount of pressure, despite his contentions to the contrary. ("There's no pressure at all. Once I can show that I'm the best guy on the roster at the position, then I feel that it's up to the coaches to make the decision," Bridgewater said.)
He may be right in that he'll have to earn his job as the starter initially. But he's the unquestioned long-term answer at quarterback for the Vikings.
Bridgewater has taken the appropriate approach following his tumble down draft boards - or, more accurately, from his place atop several mock drafts months ago to the 32nd pick the real draft.
Will he show 31 teams they were wrong to pass on him? That remains to be seen. His grounded view should help his chances.