There is a large contingency of Texans fans that want the Texans to take Teddy Bridgewater. I think that he will be a good QB but I just don’t see the greatness in him that exudes from the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Andrew Luck. If I were the Texans I would seriously take a hard look at Marcus Mariota though, if he decides to enter the draft. There is something about him and the way he plays the game that makes me excited to watch the game of football. There are many other directions that the Texans can go including; Clowney, Barr, Matthews, or even trading back and gaining extra picks. Any of those picks would be fine with me as well but it seems more and more likely every week that the Texans will go with a QB with their pick in the draft. I am writing this to go over the strengths and weaknesses of Mariota and Bridgewater to back up why I would rather have Mariota.
Accuracy is one of the most important things that an NFL QB has to have. You either have it or you don’t. You can always build a powerful arm but you can’t build accuracy. While you can refine ball placement with better mechanics and timing, you're only refining the ability that's already there. Ball placement on a consistent, crisp basis is the requirement, and Mariota shows that both from the pocket and on the move. Mariota is definitely the more accurate downfield thrower of the two.
Bridgewater, like Mariota, has the arm to spread the ball around to every part of the field. There is a talent parity between Oregon and Louisville. Louisville doesn't have the All-Star talent on offense that Oregon can boast—something that makes Bridgewater's job that much more difficult. Even in spite of the talent parity, I give Mariota the edge in this category due to the fact that he is a much better downfield thrower.
The two quarterbacks have to be graded differently here thanks to the schemes used. Bridgewater, for the most part, is making his own pre-snap reads and adjustments, while Mariota gets some of his information from the coaches on the sideline. Bridgewater is clearly ahead of Mariota in terms of seeing the defense, making a read, adjusting the line or play call and then attacking. Bridgewater has also had a whole extra year of experience more than Mariota as well.
Bridgewater is definitely smart enough to handle an NFL offense. His best asset is what he's able to do mentally. Before and after the snap, Bridgewater is calm, cool and collected in making an analytical decision on where to go with the football. Bridgewater's mistakes come from trying to do too much, not from missing a read or making a poor decision on where to go with the football. You won't see him overlook a cornerback squatting in the flats. The highest grade of any Bridgewater characteristic is for his vision and intelligence on the field, hands down.
While Mariota isn't asked to make the decisions before the snap that Bridgewater is, it doesn't mean he's doesn’t have great vision. On the contrary, what makes Mariota so dangerous is his quick thinking when the ball is in his hands. Whether it's on a read-option, play-action pass or a simple dropback, Mariota is often asked to make multiple reads on any given play. Making the right one is what allows the Oregon offense to roll like it does. Mariota might catch up to Bridgewater one day but for now Bridgewater is notably ahead of Mariota in this area.
The Supreme Teddy Bridgewater Highlights (via MockingNFLDraft)
Everyone looks at arm strength and thinks of a QB making the big, strong throws down the field. Those are good, but velocity on short throws is just as important. I'd rather have the quarterback who throws with authority on timing routes and connects at a high percentage than the big-armed quarterback who has a poor accuracy rating. Mariota has the stronger arm of the two. Mariota and Bridgewater are both notable for how catchable their passes are, and with that you usually lose a little velocity.That said, one great thing about the Oregon offense is that it asks Mariota to throw to space a lot and hit wide receivers as they come open. To do that efficiently, he has to drive the ball in hot—and he's doing a great job of it this season. Delivering the ball on time over the middle takes velocity, and Mariota does that as well as any quarterback in the nation.
You'll never hear anyone rave about Bridgewater's arm strength, but it's definitely good enough. He's similar to Aaron Rodgers in that regard. You'll see that Bridgewater tends to float the ball on deeper passes. Sometimes, this works greatly to his advantage as he drops the ball right over the head of the receiver into his arms. Other times, he's just missing and it's an overthrow. This is one thing I've noticed big improvement on over the last year but it is one of his weakest traits right now, so Mariota gets the edge in this category.
The Supreme Marcus Mariota Highlights (via MockingNFLDraft)
Both QB’s are excellent in pocket presence and escapability, have the mechanics down when throwing the football, and they both have the necessary size to appease all of the scouts. When looking at two excellent quarterback prospects, it's easy to become overly picky and start to focus too much on what they can't do or where their struggles might be. Scouting Bridgewater, we can look at his downfield inaccuracy at times and over-analyze one trait instead of looking at his intelligence, composure, accuracy and vision.
With Mariota, evaluators can become panicked because he plays in an unconventional offense and miss his accuracy, arm strength and running ability. You have to take into account that Marcus Mariota is an unfinished product as a redshirt sophomore, but the traits and abilities that he has shown up to this point make him a top 10 prospect. Given time to develop, Mariota could be better than Bridgewater. The steps he's taken from 2012 to now are remarkable, and if he can continue to improve at this rate, he's going to enter Andrew Luck territory as a prospect. The main reason I want the Texans to take Mariota is because of his upside. He already looks to be an amazing QB right now and is only 19 years old. To just think about the improvement that he could make in the NFL makes me worry for the defenses that will have to face him. What are your thoughts?