Just over a week ago, the Minnesota Vikings moved back into the first round of the draft to select quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. If everything goes as planned, he will become their franchise quarterback for years to come.
The hype since the Vikings selected Bridgewater has run the gamut. From people roaring that general manager Rick Spielman should have drafted Johnny Manziel to delight and the belief that this was the greatest pick ever.
The debate has already begun on whether he should start right away or sit and learn from Matt Cassel. Personally, I love this pick as much as anyone, but I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves just yet. I may be in the minority, but I do not think that Bridgewater should take over the starting quarterback job this season. In order for both Bridgewater and the Vikings to be successful in the future, he needs to sit.
First off, I am a believer in the old school model of holding a clipboard for a while, a la Aaron Rodgers. The jump from college to the NFL is huge and when you a draft a quarterback, it needs to be approached as a long term investment.
The goal is to develop a guy who can be the best player possible for the next 10 years or more. Despite what we have seen in the past few years from players like Matt Ryan and Andrew Luck, throwing a quarterback to the wolves can be a dangerous proposition.
This is the case both in terms of long term health and future development. We saw what can happen first hand with Christian Ponder. He never recovered from the hits and mental mistakes he made early on in his career. I’m not a fan of Ponder, but you never know what could have happened if the Vikings took a different approach with him.
The team can’t afford to have another miss at quarterback or they’ll end up in a perpetual state of rebuilding. Bridgewater needs to be given the best opportunity to succeed and in my opinion that means learning for a year behind Matt Cassel.
Along those lines, quarterbacks are rarely ready physically or mentally when they reach the league. Some scouts thought Bridgewater was too small. So why not take some time to have him work with the trainers to make him more NFL ready?
On the mental side of things, there is something about learning the playbook before actually implementing it in game situations that can be very helpful. A year of learning from offensive coordinator Norv Turner will ensure Bridgewater is ready when his number is called.
The final reason why I would have Bridgewater sit a years is because the NFL is a league of parity. It doesn’t take much to get into playoff contention. Look at what Kansas City did last season. We can’t forget that the Vikings were a playoff team two years ago and they still have one of the league’s biggest game changers in running back Adrian Peterson.
That means trying to win now is still important. It’s debatable, but at this point, Cassel gives the Vikings the best chance to win right now. A veteran presence is important, especially with a new coaching staff. So if the competition is close in training camp, the edge should be given to Cassel due to the fact he has been there before.
Sitting Bridgewater may be difficult considering he was a first round pick, but this time around they need to be more cautious than they were with Ponder. Neither Spielman nor head coach Mike Zimmer can afford for Bridgewater not to work out. The only way I can see starting him right away is due to injury or if he is head and shoulders better than Cassel (which I don’t see happening).
Sorry folks, but for now I think we need to be patient until we can give Bridgewater the best chance possible to be the Vikings quarterback of the future.