“F— It, I’m Going Deep” (Sleeper Series): Brandon Bridge

Hello once again, fellow draft devotees and combine connoisseurs. I speak to you today to preach the word of Brandon Bridge. He comes from a land where pines and maples grow, great prairies spread, and Lordly rivers flow. That’s right: Mobile, Alabama, where sits the University of South Alabama, playing football in the Sun Belt conference. And he’s come to save your franchise from years of quarterback misery (results may vary). The tale of the tape reads as 6’4″, 229 lbs., with 34 1/4 inches of flame-throwing arm power.

Bridge does not inspire much confidence statistically. He completed a paltry 52% of his passes, and only threw 15 touchdowns to 8 interceptions. Not exactly folkloric numbers, but I’ve seen two of his 2014 tapes, and the kinds of throws he can make will leave your head spinning. One game is against Appalachian State via Draft Breakdown, and I found another on the YouTube channel ‘CollegeFBDude‘ against Mississippi State. Thanks to both for uploading.

 

Appalachian State

The first play I want to show displays a number of positive attributes in my book. Bridge sees the blitz, but trusts his protection. His eyes scan from left to right as he drops back and climbs the pocket. There’s no wasted motion in his throw. The ball hits his receiver in stride. Then on the very next play, he throws the ball over his intended receivers head. Don’t ask me. He ends that drive with a nice rushing touchdown.

Overall, he uses the pocket well. Here you see him using every last second of his time, and all of the space possible, to stay in the pocket and find a receiver. This is not his first read (it might be his third). Watch his eyes.

Guess what happens next. If you answered “a touchdown strike to the running back on a wheel route,” then congratulations on being wrong. That almost happens. It *should* be the result. Alas, Bridge rushes the throw under no pressure and misses an easy touchdown.

Not everyone can roll to their left with a defender on pursuit, square up, and fire a strike to a receiver. It looks easy for Bridge. He has functional mobility in both directions. Now look at this play. He sells the pump fake to the bubble screen man – the corner bites hard,leaving him completely flat footed. Bang! Bridge hits his receiver in stride, again. Notice how he slides ever so slightly in the pocket before releasing that one. I really like how he can move in the pocket.

Bridge can throw a great deep ball. He releases the ball on the far left hash of the 26 yard line, and it hits the receiver in stride along the right sideline at the 22 yard line. That’s impossible. Seriously, what?  Of course, the difference between that pass and this pass is the amount of pressure he’s under. He can’t get it done in the face of true pressure. Except, well, yes he can. With a free rusher bearing right down on him, Bridge makes a picture perfect toss deep down the sideline for a touchdown. It is actually impossible to put the ball in a better location.

OH. MY. GOD.” Jaw meet floor. Words cannot describe my reaction when I saw Bridge break multiple would-be tacklers and impossibly make that touchdown throw while on the run. Without any hyperbole, that is one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen. Yeah… next game.

 

Mississippi State

If you didn’t follow college football last year, Mississippi State was ranked #1 in the polls for several weeks. That’s the level of competition Brandon Bridge is facing on this tape. The first play of note is this beauty deep down the middle, behind the defense, right into the hands of the receiver. In and out of the receivers hands, that is.

On this play, Bridge probably needs to take the brief running lane and pick up however many yards he can on the ground instead of pulling the ball back and attempting to escape around the left side. Most likely, he ends up near the line of scrimmage. In trying to make a heroic play on 1st down, the ball ends up on the ground. Live to fight another down.

Here is an important 3rd down where Bridge simply makes a poor decision. He’s about to get sacked on his blind side, and, well, he just dares the defender to intercept this ball. It’s a spot where a field goal is likely difficult for a college kicker. I’m not certain what he should do here without seeing the all-22 camera angle, but this isn’t the answer.

I really want you to see this play. It looks like the ball is bending into the receiver who is breaking right off the top of his stem. Bridge keeps hitting players at full speed with perfect ball placement in these two games. No one man should have all this power (watch that throwing-across-your-body thing though). How the heck did he only complete 52% of his passes? Someone out there upload more games.

About that interception he nearly threw earlier, this time the corner does make the catch. Also, this is a much worse decision. It isn’t 3rd down. He isn’t under pressure. His receiver is double covered. There’s no deception by the defense or anything. Of all the throws in both games, this is the worst. I can make some excuse for the other mistakes. Not this one.

After making such a boneheaded throw, I’m glad to see him rebound here. It’s a similar throw – and result, unfortunately – to the first play I showcased. Bridge can sure rip some deep balls. If only his receivers could catch them. His accuracy down field is very impressive, which I can’t say about a prospect like Bryce Petty in this 2015 class.

So we return to Mr. Bridge’s poor decision making with this throw. That comes stamped with postage saying “return to sender.” If you’ve figured this guy out yet, you already know that his very next throw is right where it needs to be. On the ground, because his receivers cannot catch (duh).

There are a few notable plays in the rest of the game. On the bad side, he doesn’t see the underneath defender here, and almost throws another interception. I’ll leave off with a rather funny play. Bouncy! In all seriousness, he shows some nice elusiveness there.

 

THE WRAP

Consistency is king in the NFL. Bridge is not consistent. We’re looking at a developmental prospect. I see one with huge upside. I omitted a few plays where he manages to escape the pocket to scramble for positive yards. He does possess that dimension to his game, when necessary. I’m dying to find more tape on Brandon Bridge. His arm talent is rare even among NFL starters.

A good comparison from last year might be Logan Thomas, who is currently being mentored under Bruce Arians in Arizona. I think Bridge flashes NFL talent more consistently, and those flashes of talent are at a higher level (Thomas was much more frustrating to watch). Thomas got picked in the 4th round last year. All it takes is one team to fall for Bridge as much as I did for him to go in a similar spot. This class is really poor with quarterback prospects after Mariota, Winston, and Hundley. I’m laughing at any team that takes any of the senior bowl guys ahead of Bridge.

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