EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. – Weeks before the Minnesota Vikings traded back into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater on Thursday night, they brought the Louisville quarterback in for an extra physical to check out an issue with his heart.
"I just had an abnormal heartbeat," Bridgewater said in a conference call. "I think it was 1 percent, or one beat, less than the normal beat. So, I came back up to Minnesota, got the physical, got the EKG and everything, got tested and it came back positive."
No other teams circled back to check out the heart issue, according to Bridgewater, who said it never had been raised before either.
"I wasn't aware of it," he said. "It came up at the combine and I was freaking out about it. But I knew that once I got started and starting running on the treadmill, that my heart rate would be normal."
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer first revealed the examination as part of a broader story about what he likes about his new quarterback.
After the exam, Zimmer said, he asked Bridgewater for an update.
"I said, 'How's your heart?'" Zimmer recalled. "He said, 'Well, they said it was too big.'"
Moving beyond the health issue, here is how USA Today Sports critiqued the Vikings QB pick.
Bridgewater is a top quarterback prospect due to his approach to the game. No quarterback in this class is as mentally prepared for the next level. Bridgewater isn't as physically talented as others in the class.
Quick take: The Vikings attempted to trade back into the first round twice for a quarterback. They were successful the second time. Bridgewater is a curious fit in Norv Turner's vertical system, though. He is clearly the most efficient quarterback in this class, but he also has the worst completion percentage of any top quarterback prospect over 15 yards.
Like everyone else, the Minnesota Vikings' brain trust wasn't exactly blown away by Bridgewater's pro day throwing session March 17 at Louisville.
But team officials saw a different guy weeks later at a private throwing session, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Thursday night, shortly after the team traded back into the final slot in the NFL draft's first round and took Bridgewater 32nd overall.
"Totally different," Spielman said. "And then to see him respond to the way Norv (Turner, the Vikings' offensive coordinator) and Scott (Turner, the quarterbacks coach) were coaching him during that workout was remarkable.
"That said, this guy is what we saw on tape."
BRIDGEWATER: Right fit for Vikings?
Bridgewater passed for 9,817 yards and 72 touchdowns in three seasons as the starter at Louisville and was projected as the possible No. 1 overall draft pick just a few months ago. But the pro day started a seven-week run of media criticism and speculation he might not even be taken in Round 1.
It was close, but the Vikings shipped pick No. 40 plus a fourth rounder to the Seattle Seahawks to move up eight spots — a move driven in part by the fact taking Bridgewater in the first round instead of early in the second would give them a fifth-year option on his rookie contract.
"You know the thing I like the most about him? He wins," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said of Bridgewater, who was 27-8 as the starter in a pro-style offense at Louisville.
"Everywhere he's ever been, he wins. Starts as a freshman in high school, wins. Starts as a freshman in college and wins. This guy — he's got something about him."
So, what happened at the pro day?
WINNERS/LOSERS: Did Vikings, Bridgewater make list?
Zimmer suggested it was Bridgewater's decision not to wear a glove on his throwing hand, as he did throughout his college career. For the private workout with the Vikings, it was back on.
"It was a decision that I made based off the way I was training prior to the pro day," Bridgewater said. "But walking away from the pro day, I learned a valuable lesson to just continue to do what got you here and do what you're comfortable doing."
One other factor in Bridgewater's favor with the Vikings: an analytical study that showed he was the best of the draft's quarterbacks against the blitz.
"He's very cool and calm under pressure," Spielman said. "He has mobility in the pocket to make plays."