By most accounts, at least from the perspective of October, Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater will be the first quarterback drafted next April. It's why 20 NFL teams (and 26 scouts) will be in attendance Thursday night when the Cardinals host Rutgers in a nationally televised game.
That's hardly surprising; the Jags are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback. And so is this: Buccaneers director of scouting Eric Stokes will also be there. But this should raise a few eyebrows: Steelers GM Kevin Colbert will be there, too.
So what's that all about?
The simple answer: Colbert is doing his due diligence. SteelerCityInsider.net's Jim Wexell thinks that Texas A&M left tackle Jake Matthews remains the favorite in the Pittsburgh.
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout, agrees.
"If the Steelers have a top-5 pick, they should trade it for four offensive linemen," he said Wednesday. "They are so bad up front. I believe in (Ben) Roethlisberger. I believe you put the pieces around Roethlisberger."
Another team with a franchise quarterback in his early 30s that should be interested in Bridgewater: the Giants, at least according to the New York Post's Bart Hubbuch, who quoted an NFC GM as saying "[Bridgewater] is smart, he's a character guy, he's poised, he's got good size, he can make all the throws and he can do it on the run, too . Any team in the top five would take a very long look at him, even if they've got a franchise [quarterback] already."
In this week's Coach Killers, we made an argument for trading Manning but not because he's holding back this offense but because he's one of its few bright spots. If the Giants truly are in "blow it up and rebuild this thing" mode, Manning could be their best bargaining chip. If, instead, the feeling among the front office and coaching staff is that the Giants are only 3-4 players away from contending again, then neither dumping Manning nor drafting Bridgewater makes much sense.
So how does Bridgewater compare to former first-rounders? NFL.com's Jeremiah offered this: "From the grades I've handed out, I'd have (Bridgewater) behind (Matthew) Stafford. I'd have him in that Ryan Tannehill group, probably, I'd have him behind RG3. I'd have him over (Mark) Sanchez when he came out. I liked Alex Smith when he came out, so grade-wise I'd have him right there with Alex Smith."