Mike Zimmer: If Teddy Bridgewater is the best QB, he will play

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Teddy Bridgewater is the Vikings' latest franchise quarterback, a first-round pick taken three years after the team pegged Christian Ponder as that guy. Ponder will almost certainly be a free agent after the 2015 season, and it's reasonable to think that, barring injuries, he may have already taken his last snap in a Vikings uniform.

Matt Cassel is the other veteran quarterback on the roster, and he played better than Ponder last season. But there's a reason the team traded back into the first round to grab Bridgewater: They need immediate help at the position. That said, first-year coach Mike Zimmer won't throw Bridgewater into the starting lineup until he's proven he's ready.

"Teddy will play when we feel like he’s ready, if he’s the best guy, which we hope that he will be,” Zimmer said, via StarTribune.com. “We always want to have competition.”

Recent history suggests we'll see Bridgewater sooner rather than later; all nine quarterbacks taken in the first round from 2011-2013 made at least five starts as a rookie, and six were Week 1 starters.

“I can’t even tell you the last time I sat and watched,” Bridgewater said. “But my expectations here are to show that I can compete at a high level and lead this team.”

Bridgewater was considered one of the draft's most polished quarterbacks, and former Vikings QB Rich Gannon thinks those attributes will serve him well in Minnesota. He also thinks the sooner the rookie gets to play the better for everyone.

“I always say that there’s a fine line between holding a clipboard and how much you really learn compared to being out there when the bullets are flying,” Gannon told the Tribune. “Having to make quick decisions, that’s really where you learn.”

Maybe Zimmer said it best late Thursday night, shortly after working a deal for Bridgewater: “You know the thing I like the most about him? He wins.”

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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