A leading NFL Draft analyst has identified Brandon Bridge’s right arm as perhaps the strongest amongst all quarterbacks in this year’s NFL Draft.
“Bridge’s path to the NFL isn’t traditional but he’s big, athletic and may just have the strongest arm of any quarterback in this class,” wrote Rang in a blog identifying potential “diamonds in the rough” amongst the 2015 NFL Draft class.
Rang, who writes for CBCsports.com and works as an NFL Draft analyst, focuses on players he feels “haven’t received the attention their physical abilities warrant, usually because they starred at a lower level of competition.”
Players like Pro Bowl tight ends Jimmy Graham (who famously only played one year of college football at Miami) and fellow former basketball player Julius Thomas, who took a similar unlikely path to NFL stardom from tiny Portland State, are past “diamonds” who rewarded the NFL teams who took a chance on them.
Rang also points to Lions running back Joique Bell (Wayne State, 2010), Colts speedy wideout T.Y. Hilton (Florida International, 2012), Cardinals left tackle Jared Veldheer (Hillsdale, 2010), Ravens stout defensive tackle Brandon Williams (Missouri Southern State, 2013) and Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson (Montana, 2012) as other success stories.
“A native Canadian, the 6-foot-4, 229-pound Bridge struggled to get attention from American recruiters out of high school despite guiding his team (St. Marcellinus in Mississauga, Ontario) to back-to-back league championships,” wrote Rang. “One of the few programs to offer Bridge a scholarship as a quarterback was D-II Alcorn State, where Bridge played for two years before making the jump to South Alabama. He appeared in 11 games last year with the Jaguars, completing 160 of 307 passes (52.1 percent) for 1,927 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also ran 297 yards and four TDs. Like many of the others prospects on this list, Bridge’s path to the NFL isn’t traditional but he’s big, athletic and may just have the strongest arm of any quarterback in this class. Bridge is attempting to be the first Canadian-born quarterback to be drafted since the New York Giants made former Florida standout (and current ESPN analyst) Jesse Palmer a fourth-round pick in 2001.”
Sunmedia NFL reporter John Kryk has also been tracking Bridge’s performance at combines and pro days, and reported much improved footwork at Bridge’s March 29 pro day at the University of South Alabama.
“The knocks on Bridge include these: that while he has an arm so strong as to make any scout drool, he lacks touch; that his completion percentage (especially in the pocket) was worrisomely low in college, owing to inconsistent footwork problems; that while tall (6-foot-4½) he has a lean basketball player’s body, which raises long-term injury concerns; that he took almost every college snap from the shotgun and is only familiarizing himself now with 1-, 3-, 5- and 7-step drops; and that he didn’t play much in college, either at South Alabama or before that in two years at Alcorn State in Mississippi,” wrote Kryk. “In front of about a dozen NFL scouts (at his pro day), however, the 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., showed he’s more than an over-his-head, bazooka-armed, spread-system quarterback.”
Much of the improvement, according to Bridge, is thanks to several sessions with QB trainer David Morris, of Alabama-based QB Country.
“I really wanted to emphasize my footwork here today,” Bridge told Kryk after the workout. “I thought we showcased that pretty well. I thought I had a good base under all my throws. I thought I threw it pretty accurately, for the most part.”
“He’s become a more consistent thrower, and a guy that can take some velocity off when he wants to, and add some umph to it when he needs to, too,” Morris, who scripted Bridge’s pro-day workout, told Kryk. “We’re really working a lot on mastering each ball speed, too. There are (so many) different ball speeds that you have to be really comfortable with — the firm ball, the touch ball, the in-between ball, the two-ball, the deep ball, the flat ball, the arching ball … The more you get accustomed to it, the better you get at it.”
While Kryk reports that the Colts are the only NFL team so far to have worked out Bridge privately, NFL teams that sent talent evaluators to watch him at his pro day included the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.
The NFL draft begins on April 30 in Chicago.