Edmonton Journal

Canadian NFL prospect Bridge anxious for draft

QB expects to be a mid-round selection

- DAN RALPH The Canadian Press

The dream is close to becoming a reality for quarterbac­k Brandon Bridge.

Growing up in Mississaug­a, Ont., Bridge often imagined the thrill of hearing his name called at the NFL draft. This year’s event begins Thursday in Chicago and runs through Saturday with Bridge, 23, figuring he’ll go anywhere between the fifth and seventh rounds.

“It (being drafted) is very important to me,” Bridge said from Mississaug­a, where he’ll watch the draft with his family. “It’s always been a dream of mine and I’ve always wanted to be part of that experience of hearing your name called and feeling the excitement of seeing your name pop up across the screen.”

T he s i x- fo ot- fou r 229-pound Bridge isn’t the only Canadian looking to be taken. Rice defensive lineman Christian Covington of Vancouver — the son of Canadian Football Hall of Famer Grover Covington — and Yale running back Tyler Varga of Kitchener, Ont., joined Bridge at the NFL combine in February and both are projected selections.

Bridge is looking to become the first Canadianbo­rn quarterbac­k drafted since 2001 when Ottawa’s Jesse Palmer went in the fourth round to the New York Giants. Bridge began his U.S. college career at Alcorn State before transferri­ng to South Alabama in 2012.

Bridge, who has run a 4.64-second 40-yard dash, appeared in 11 games last year with the Jaguars, completing 160 of 307 passes (52.1 per cent) for 1,927 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight intercepti­ons. He also ran for 297 yards and four TDs.

Bridge capped his college career by playing in the NFLPA Bowl before working out at the NFL combine. Last month, Bridge performed before 12 NFL scouts and two CFL representa­tives at his pro day in Mobile, Ala., impressing pro officials with the off-season work he did to improve his mechanics and footwork.

He figures it will be more of the same early in his NFL career, which he readily embraces.

“I truly think I’ve put in a lot of work to improve on what I did this past season,” he said. “When a coach sits me down and kind of helps me throughout this whole process I think he’ll be very happy with the progress and the project I’ll be.”

There are no questions about Bridge’s arm strength. On its website, the NFL says of Bridge: “His arm strength is pure NFL, but his lack of functional accuracy simply cannot be overlooked.”

Ideally, Bridge would like to go to a team that already has an establishe­d starter. That would give him the luxury of time to learn the pro game while being tutored by a veteran quarterbac­k.

And Bridge will be anxious to reward the team that drafts him.

“They’re going to get a hard worker, a humble guy,” he said. “A guy who is always going to get better, who is coachable and accepts criticism.

“A guy who won’t accept failure and will keep working on something. Someone if you tell him he can’t do something, he’ll try to prove you wrong.”

Bridge can’t wait for the NFL draft because then he’ll finally know where his pro career will begin. He admits the months of uncertaint­y have been difficult.

“Right now everything is out of my control and I like to be in control of what happens,” he said. “It will be a big relief when my name gets called.

“I’m feeling a lot of excitement but also a lot of nerves and stress. (Being drafted) will mean the career starts, you’ve got your foot in the door.

“Then it’s about getting your whole body into the house.”

 ?? STREETER LECKA/ GETTY IMAGES ?? Mississaug­a, Ont., native Brandon Bridge, left, threw for 1,927 yards and 15 touchdowns for the South Alabama Jaguars last season.
STREETER LECKA/ GETTY IMAGES Mississaug­a, Ont., native Brandon Bridge, left, threw for 1,927 yards and 15 touchdowns for the South Alabama Jaguars last season.

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