Typically, pro day workouts are like episodes of "The Bachelor" — highly anticipated, largely scripted and ultimately unfulfilling. But they have become quite the media spectacle in recent years, whereas once they were open only to a few outsiders, mostly NFL scouts.
So when Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater — who is in a three-horse race to be the top quarterback drafted this spring, perhaps even No. 1 overall — struggles to throw the ball exceptionally well in the controlled, comfortable environment of his own college campus, people start to whisper:
Maybe he's not that good.
To put what a pro day means in proper perspective, I harken back to what Jim Harbaugh told me at Northwestern's pro day earlier this month. When I asked how and where he placed a quarterback's pro day outing in the overall assessment of a prospect, Harbaugh told me, "It's like one game," Harbaugh said. "It's another game to scout."
So if that's the case, and Bridgewater did have what most pundits viewed as an average day at best, then chalk it up: Bridgewater has no additional good tape to put on his resume.
When it's all said and done, the feeling here is that a so-so pro day — even though it's set up to make a quarterback look good with scripted, predetermined throws — is not enough to make a prospect fall on his own.
There was a good crowd there. Nearly every team was represented, and there were six NFL head coaches on hand to watch Bridgewater, safety Calvin Pryor, edge rusher Marcus Smith and linebacker Preston Brown, among other UL players. So there was something at stake. But let's not make this out to be equal to Bridgewater flopping in a bowl game.
Now, for you conspiracy theorists out there, here's an interesting nugget: Bridgewater struggled Monday, and it was the first time he has been seen throwing without gloves. He has been playing in games with gloves since high school in Florida, and Bridgewater explained his reasoning for taking them off during the workout.
"Well, when I was training down in Florida, it was 80-degree weather, sunny every day, so I was out there throwing without the glove, just letting it rip," Bridgewater said. "So I felt confident coming into this process, coming into today, that I train without the glove, so I can throw on pro day without the glove."
I talked to NBC Sports Network's Shaun KIng, who was a pretty good quarterback in his day. He was at Monday's workout, and he said he could tell Bridgewater was a little rattled about the grip of the ball even before he started to throw.
"I saw him off to the side, rubbing down the balls," King said by phone, "and you could just see he wasn't getting a good grip. I have had that happen to me, and it gets in your head."
Maybe that's why Bridgewater was, by King's account, "inaccurate and indecisve" on Monday.
Another change for Bridgewater was him dropping six pounds, down from 214, since the NFL combine last month. That can be explained easily: Bridgewater ran the 40-yard dash Monday, running a respectable (and unofficial) time of 4.78 seconds. Slower than Johnny Manziel, who weighs about the same as Bridgewater, but their games are different. Bridgewater isn't the scrambler and runner Manziel is.
The fact that Bridgewater allowed several passes to hit the ground certainly isn't good. But it shouldn't be a game-changer for teams that have scouted each of his 1,142 college passes, the bulk of which have put him in the No. 1 overall pick discussion to begin with.
"I was surprised there were not more head coaches and GMs there," King said. "I thought there might be more big-name people to watch. But you know what might happen after today? [Bridgewater] might have to go work out for a few teams privately, just to convince them [the pro day] was nothing but a bad day."