Bridgewater moving past glove controversy

Teddy Bridgewater's poor pro day dropped his draft stock and he says he learned a lesson because of it.

The Glove.

Not since Michael Jackson has there been as much discussion of a glove over someone's right hand as it was for Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Before his pro day in March, Bridgewater was viewed by a lot of analysts as being one of the favorites to go with the first pick in the first round of the 2014 draft. After struggling with some of his throws at his pro day, his stock dropped to the point that he was the last pick of the first round.

It seemed like his sketchy pro day performance negated an outstanding college career that included completing 590 of 846 passes for 7,688 yards, 58 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions in his final two seasons – including 31 TDs and just four picks last year.

Bridgewater admitted that the decision not to wear a glove at his pro day cost him on draft day, but he learned one of many lessons quarterbacks learn through their maturation process.

"It was a decision I made based on how I was training prior to the pro day," Bridgewater said. "I walked away from the pro day learning a valuable lesson to do what got you here and what you're comfortable doing."

The critics came out of the woodwork following the sub-par pro day and the negative buzz began building. He went from being viewed as the top QB prospect to much farther down on the pecking order.

Instead of getting down on himself for having a bad day at the worst possible time, Bridgewater took ownership of the moment and used it as motivation to get teams confident that he could be the franchise quarterback of their organization.

"My takeaway from that? I have to get better," Bridgewater said. "That's what I'm all about – getting better and making the people around me better. I was able to embrace the fact I didn't have a great performance, but I was able to move forward and make myself a better player."

The Vikings never lost faith in Bridgewater and their interest was so high that they met with him privately at the Scouting Combine, attended his pro day, worked him out the day after his pro day, had a private workout with him in Florida and visited with him yet again at Winter Park as one of their "top 30" prospect visits.

Not only did the Vikings spend as much or more time with Bridgewater than they did with any other prospect, no team spent more time working him out than the Vikings.

"Prior to the draft, I met with the Vikings four or five times," Bridgewater said. "I was able to establish a relationship with (general manager) Rick Spielman, (offensive coordinator) Norv Turner and (quarterbacks coach) Scott Turner during the process. When they came down to visit me and when I worked out for the Vikings, I felt very comfortable."

While the conventional wisdom is that Bridgewater will be brought along at whatever pace the Turners think it will take for him to become a starter, he's looking forward to the challenge and believe the Vikings have all the necessary tools in place to be a dynamic offense.

"I feel like the Vikings have everything in place," Bridgewater said. "They have the best running back in the National Football League, they have one of the best groups of receivers in the National Football League and an offensive line blocking for their quarterback. I felt I could fit well in Coach Turner's offense."

Whether others blame The Glove for the struggles he had at his pro day, the ramifications were clear. In most of the initial mock drafts, Bridgewater was not only the first quarterback to come off the board, in many cases, he was the first player projected to be drafted.

While he ended up as the last pick of the round, Bridgewater didn't seem to mind. He had a feeling that somehow, some way, he was going to end up with the Vikings and now he's ready to take the next step in his career and start the process of becoming the new face of the Vikings offense.

"Things happen for a reason," Bridgewater said. "From me being projected No. 1 to going 32nd, I'm just blessed. I'm just happy to be a Viking."

John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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