Big Impression

Big Impression

Of the four Canadians who attended the Combine, Mississauga’s Brandon Bridge made the biggest impact.

While the former St. Marcellinus High School star’s 40-yard dash time (4.72 seconds) wasn’t jaw-dropping, he did impress with his arm.

Sportsnet’s Justin Dunk provided the following eye witness account of the 6-foot-4, 229-pound passer’s performance:

Bridge was asked to execute an array of drops and throw a number of different patterns during his on field session Saturday. He threw three-step slants, five-step 10-yard outs, five-step 12-yard hooks, seven-step 17-yard square in routes and seven step post-corners.

On the quick game throws, Bridge showed compact, crisp feet. The ball came out in rhythm after his back foot hit the ground on his third step. That allowed him to deliver the football on time. Ball placement was precise on slant throws, out in front and leading the receiver so he could catch and run in stride. Five-step throws started to show Bridge’s inconsistencies with his footwork. His feet were slow and he was off balance when throwing out routes to the left, causing balls to be thrown behind receivers coming out of their breaks. When throwing outs to the right hand side, Bridge’s feet were considerably better. He transferred weight smoothly and drove the ball with pace and ideal placement on each of those passes. And you could easily tell he was comfortable throwing a fade ball. The arc on his deep passes is beautiful. There is nice a combination of effortless pace with touch. Placement was impeccable each time on the outside shoulder of the receiver. Lastly, Bridge’s seven-step efforts were solid. His footwork was quick and cleaner than when he took five step drops. Particularly when Bridge was throwing the deep-in he looked to be totally in rhythm and let the ball go so it arrived as the receiver was coming out of his cut. The post-corner throws showcased Bridge’s arm strength. He unleashed four balls on a line with zip and NFL-type trajectory.

After seeing Bridge’s full throwing session it’s clear he has an NFL-calibre arm. He has a quick snap and whip to his release. The ball comes off his hands smoothly and effortlessly. Those are always great traits to have, but Bridge needs to continue to clean up his footwork. At times it was slow and choppy and caused him to be off balance on those reps. When Bridge has his feet and arm in sync, it’s easy to see what NFL talent evaluators like about him. That’s why becoming consistent with each drop is going to be supremely important for Bridge moving forward.

Overall, consider Bridge’s stock pointing up. http://www.sportsnet.ca/football/nfl/canadian-bridge-proves-nfl-arm-combine/

Matthew Fairburn, an NFL Draft prognosticator with Syracuse.com, sees the former Team Canada pivot as a good late round fit with the Buffalo Bills:

We’ll keep beating the Brandon Bridge drum between now and the NFL Draft in April. Without a first-round pick the Bills aren’t going to find a quarterback in this draft who can help them right away. The most likely scenario is that Buffalo finds a quarterback in free agency and then drafts one it can develop. Bridge is an athletic quarterback with all of the tools to be a starter in the NFL. The problem is he’s incredibly raw as a passer. That’s why he’s a seventh-round flier. http://www.buffalobills.com/news/article-1/What-theyre-saying-Mock-draft-picks-and-free-agency-previews/d2b3ebcd-a822-446f-a4eb-7ff0948638e0

NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan also noted in a recent blog that Eagles coach Chip Kelly and his staff met with Bridge during the Combine, and thus may have an interest in taking on Bridge as a development project. http://www.nj.com/eagles/index.ssf/2015/02/players_to_visit_with_the_eagles_at_the_2015_nfl_c.html

Allesandro Miglio, a Bleacher Report featured columnist, mentioned Bridge in a column discussing potential late-round quarterbacks in this year’s class who could ascend to the upper echelon in the NFL (like Tom Brady did fifteen years ago).

“One of the best bets to get drafted late and have a serious chance to succeed at the next level could not be any more different of a prospect than Brady—small-school quarterback Brandon Bridge from South Alabama.” http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2367769-if-theres-ever-going-to-be-another-tom-brady-draft-pick-2015-is-the-year

Prior to the 2015 Combine, NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein gave the following assessment of Bridge:

“His arm strength is pure NFL, but his lack of functional accuracy simply cannot be overlooked. It’s one thing to miss with ball placement just inside or just a little bit high, but Bridge’s throws are all over the map. He puts so much heat on them that his receivers struggle to make successful adjustments. That size, arm and athleticism are definitely traits worth taking a chance on, and Bridge could become an interesting talent down the line if a team is able to get his mechanics and touch where they need to be.”

Fellow Canadians Tyler Varga (RB, Kitchener ON), Brett Boyko (OL, Saskatoon, SK) and Christian Covington (DL, Vancouver, BC) also participated in some Combine activities and interviews while in Indianapolis.

An ankle injury kept Varga from doing any on-field drills. Covington was sidelined due to knee surgery performed in November.

“Having this many Canadians invited to the full combine is remarkable, and it shows off the growing level of Canadian talent. It also illustrates that the NFL’s well aware of this, though, and that many of the top Canadian players are now going to receive significant NFL interest,” said Yahoo.ca football blogger Andrew Bucholtz. “Having Canadians go in the NFL draft also may encourage more Canadians to take up and stick with football.” https://ca.sports.yahoo.com/blogs/cfl-55-yard-line/the-four-canadians-at-the-nfl-combine-illustrate-the-increased-competition-the-cfl-faces-201847317.html

Combine measurements and results for the four Canadians:

Brandon Bridge, QB, South Alabama
Mississauga, Ont.
Height: 6’4”
Weight: 229 pounds
40-yard time: 4.72
225-pound bench press: DNP

Tyler Varga, RB, Yale
Kitchener, Ont.
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 222 pounds
40-yard time: DNP
225-pound bench press: 23 reps

Brett Boyko, OL, UNLV
Saskatoon, Sask.
Height: 6’7”
Weight: 301 pounds
40-yard time: 5.60
225-pound bench press: DNP

Christian Covington, DL, Rice
Vancouver, BC
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 289 pounds
40-yard time: DNP
225-pound bench press: DNP

Brandon Bridge, Football Canada

Brandon Bridge, Football Canada