When Louisville Cardinals’ head coach Charlie Strong came out and said that he wouldn’t trade junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater for any other passer in college football, it was as much a statement as it was an acknowledgement of how far his quarterback has come. The Cardinals didn’t have a single player drafted in 2013, but they are loaded heading in to a new year and there are three notable prospects that could go early on in the 2014 NFL Draft with Bridgewater at the top of that list.
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Notable Prospect #1: QB Teddy Bridgwater – Junior
Bridgewater only completed 68.5-percent of his passes for 3,716 yards and 27 touchdowns while leading Louisville to a Big East Championship in 2012, forcing his self in to the national spotlight as one of the top quarterbacking prospects in the entire nation. Bridgewater is a dual-threat quarterback that can make plays with both his arm and legs, but unlike some of the other passers from a similar mold that have failed in the past, he has the natural instinct to stay in the pocket and move through his progressions rather than bolt downfield too early. Bridgewater has a strong and accurate arm, and his instincts certainly improved as he gained more experience during his sophomore season. That has set the bar particularly high for Bridgewater heading in to his junior season, and the sky is the limit for the Cardinals if their quarterback can play to his potential in what will likely be his final college football season.
Notable Prospect #2: WR DeVonte Parker – Junior
There are a couple of notable prospects that could be plugged in to this spot, but Parker will have the opportunity to have a massive year playing with Bridgewater in this Louisville offense. A big, strong receiver with quick feet and excellent straight-line speed, Parker earned first-team All-Big East honors as a sophomore last year after registering 744 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, and will have a chance to build on those numbers in 2013. Parker is a student of the game and still learning how to break off the line and use his size and strength for positioning, and if he can continue to progress then there is no reason to think he can’t be an elite receiver option heading in to the 2014 NFL Draft.
Notable Prospect #3: S Hakeem Smith – Senior
As impressive as linebacker Preston Brown was earning second-team All-Big East honors a year ago, Smith may be the more intriguing prospect heading in to 2014 because of his versatility and ball skills. A three-time All-Big East safety, Smith is a little light for the position but could end up playing cornerback at the NFL level. Already a top-1o safety prospect heading in to this season, Smith will have the chance to grow in to his body and put on some serious size in his senior year. If he can build his frame without compromising his speed and explosiveness, Smith could be selected within the first four rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
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