(Brandon Bridge of Mississauga, Ont., before his pro-day workout
in front of a dozen or NFL [and at least two CFL] talent evaluators. My photos, included)
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MOBILE, Ala. — By continuing to refine his footwork, Brandon Bridge keeps inching closer to his NFL dream.
He took another good step in that direction at his pro day on Monday at the University of South Alabama.
In front of about a dozen NFL scouts, and at least two CFL talent evaluators, the 23-year-old from Mississauga, Ont., showed he’s more than an over-his-head, bazooka-armed, spread-system quarterback.
Feedback gathered by Sun Media indicates NFL observers thought Bridge showed yet more improvement, even from his scouting-combine workout in Indianapolis last month.
“I’m hearing the same thing,” Bridge told Sun Media in a phone interview six hours after his pro-day workout concluded. “My footwork was better, they said. It was faster. I think that was mainly what they wanted to see.”
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.
NFL Network’s Mike Mayock in February said Bridge has “a whip” for an arm but is “a project. He’s very raw. He has no clue what he’s doing.”
Before the combine, NFLdraftscout.com’s senior analyst Rob Rang rated Bridge as the No. 12 QB in this year’s class who likely wouldn’t be drafted.
But Rang said Bridge passed himself into the draft with his combine performance. Indeed, Rang now rates Bridge as the No. 7 passer, with a sixth-round grade.
Bridge probably helped his draft stock even more on Monday.
On a gusty, uncommonly hot day for late March in Mobile — my rental car’s dashboard thermometer said it was 30C (86F) right after the workout ended — Bridge said he completed 50-of-59 throws, with four drops.
Drops actually explain, in part, Bridge’s unacceptably low completion percentage of 52.1% in 2014. Word in Mobile is that Jaguars receivers dropped as many as eight passes in a game more than once last fall. Eesh.
Bridge’s other five incompletions on Monday were on him. They weren’t pretty misfires either; three were ankle-hitters.
The wind was a legit factor, as was the fact that late in the quickly run workout his receivers — including one of the draft’s top tight ends, Wes Saxton — appeared completely gassed. That appeared to mess up their timing.
Early on, though, Bridge badly missed on a 22-yard out to the left to Saxton, and threw poorly on three medium-range incompletions. Bridge similarly had missed on two easy, medium-range throws to the left at the combine.
“I just had to put more air under it,” Bridge said of Monday’s 22-yard misfire. “Same with the (incomplete) right-side comeback. I just needed to put more air under it, rather than throw it like a line drive. I threw it like that because the wind was blowing a lot, and I didn’t want the wind to take it.”
Bridge displayed his usual impressive accuracy on deep throws, even while rolling out to the right. And he looked better for the most part on short throws, sometimes displaying the nice touch that tape shows he didn’t possess as a collegian.
Since leading the South Alabama Jaguars to their first bowl game in the program’s six-year existence last season, Bridge played in January’s NFLPA Bowl (a college all-star game). Then he worked out under noted QB guru Steve Calhoun in California.
Since then David Morris, of Alabama-based QB Country, has been coaching up Bridge on all his fundamentals.
“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,” said Morris, who scripted Bridge’s pro-day workout.
“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.”
The tutoring is paying off, Bridge said.
“I really wanted to emphasize my footwork here today. 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.”
NFL teams that sent talent evaluators to watch him Monday included the Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, San Diego Chargers, St. Louis Rams, Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers.
At least two CFL teams were represented as well: the Calgary Stampeders and Edmonton Eskimos.
The Colts are the only NFL team so far to have worked out Bridge privately. QBs coach Clyde Christensen came to Mobile a couple weeks ago.
“It went pretty well,” Bridge said. “He put me through some drills I’d never done, and put me in some unorthodox positions. I thought it went pretty well.”
Bridge said he has neither additional workouts (which would be in Mobile, not in Toronto) nor any team visits lined up as yet.
The NFL draft is April 30 to May 2 in Chicago. Bridge aims to become the first born-and-raised Canadian quarterback to be drafted since Jesse Palmer of Nepean, Ont., in 2001.
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