BRADENTON, Fla. — Chris Weinke knows firsthand what new Houston Texans coach Bill O'Brien prizes in a franchise quarterback.
Weinke, a former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback, has trained a quarterback O'Brien recruited, Michael O'Connor, when O'Brien was coaching at Penn State.
Could it be that Weinke, the IMG Academy quarterback guru to Russell Wilson, Cam Newton and Ryan Tannehill, is training O'Brien's future Texans quarterback, too, in former Louisville star Teddy Bridgewater? Houston owns the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft that begins May 8.
Bridgewater, who led Louisville to a 23-3 record over his final two seasons, is widely considered the most pro-ready passer among a talented 2014 crop.
"No question, Teddy would fit Bill O'Brien," Weinke told USA TODAY Sports. "I know what Bill is looking for in a quarterback because he recruited my high school quarterback to Penn State before going to the NFL. Bill is looking for the total package."
"Teddy has all the intangibles to be special," Weinke said. "He's similar to Russell Wilson in terms of elusiveness, sensing danger with pocket feel. His accuracy is as good as I've ever seen."
With elite pocket poise and anticipation, Bridgewater completed 71 percent of his passes, throwing for 31 touchdowns, 3,970 yards and four interceptions for 12-1 Louisville last season.
"What I like about Teddy is you see him make NFL-style throws," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. "Their offense is under center. ... Coaches and scouts love that. It makes it easier to evaluate him."
So will Bridgewater emerge as the top gun given three years of making full-field reads and presnap checks? Or will O'Brien, who spent five seasons with the New England Patriots working with Tom Brady, be tempted by an improvisational type of passer such as former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel? Or perhaps strong-armed Blake Bortles from Central Florida will win over O'Brien.
Weinke admits obvious bias about Bridgewater's throwing skills, high football IQ and ability to strengthen a lean 6-3, 205-pound frame. "Teddy loves the game. He's a gym rat," he said. "He's a No.1-worthy franchise quarterback."
Weinke said he tweaked Bridgewater's mechanics, engaging his legs to generate more velocity in driving deep throws downfield.
"I was pretty much an arm passer," Bridgewater says. "Chris helped tremendously improving my technique."
Bridgewater likely will wait until the last minute before deciding with agent Kennard McGuire whether to throw during Sunday's quarterback drills at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.
"When the time comes, we're going to make that decision," Bridgewater said. "I'm willing to outwork anyone to prove why I should be that top guy."
Bridgewater's drive and willingness to be coached came in part from his mother, Rose Murphy.
"I try to chase perfection as a competitor and playmaker," he said. "I consider myself an easygoing, humble guy because of life lessons learned watching my mom battle breast cancer.
"That taught me to attack each day with purpose and give back because of all her sacrifices."
Bridgewater, 21, has long been mature for his age.
"Riding home from one of my third-grade games, I just said, 'Mom, when I make it to the NFL, I'm going to buy you a pink Cadillac Escalade with pink rims,''' Bridgewater said.
Murphy marvels at her son's prescience.
"The ironic part about what Teddy said about getting me a pink Cadillac truck is that pink represents breast cancer. I was diagnosed in 2007," Murphy said. "We can laugh about it now, because he could have said any other color.
"I'm just so excited to watch him living his dream. If the pink Escalade comes along, great. It's a joy to still be winning the battle and see the man Teddy is."
He became that man at 14 — 11 years after his parents divorced. "I stopped playing sports, going to school," Bridgewater said. "I'd mow lawns, wash cars. I felt it was my job to take care of her."
Murphy received a jolting letter from Teddy's Miami Northwestern freshman teacher.
"It said, 'Teddy has been tardy.' And he'd always been a great student," Murphy said. "When I was throwing up, he'd lie on the floor with me.
"I said, 'Teddy, you're not going to quit. I'll be OK. You have a special gift.' He looked at me, crying, saying, 'OK.' "He really touched me."
Her youngest of four children vowed to graduate from Louisville in three years. In December, he became the first of his family to earn a degree — in sports management. He had chosen Louisville over Miami (Fla.) for the chance to start sooner.
"I said, 'You're going to Louie who?'" says Murphy, a field operations specialist with Miami-Dade County public schools. "All I knew was the Kentucky Derby."
Shawn Watson, the former Louisville offensive coordinator and current assistant head coach at Texas, shows highlights of Bridgewater as a training tool for Longhorns quarterbacks.
So who'll go No. 1 — Johnny Football or Pro-Ready Teddy? It seems a search as much about finding a franchise's conscience as its face.
"I've been asked by general managers or heads of scouting, 'What trait does Teddy have that warrants him being the face of the franchise?'" Watson said. "His character enables him to realize his talent.
"We're all looking for that franchise face," Watson added. "We want him to have that work ethic, character and be the example of what you want the spirit of your team to be.
"Teddy is that guy."