Sid Hartman: Joe Webb is, hands down, a superb QB

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2010 - 12:22 AM

Along with surprising athletic ability that has left an impression, the sixth-round pick is moving up the roster.

Quarterback Joe Webb, a sixth-round draft pick in April, received second-team reps during Vikings minicamp this weekend.

Photo: Andy King, Associated Press

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Maybe one of the biggest surprises in Vikings minicamp was sixth-round draft choice Joe Webb, who could be the quarterback of the future.

One person impressed with Webb is Rick Spielman, the team's vice president of personnel.

"If you look at Joe Webb, he was a very good quarterback at the University of Alabama-Birmingham," Spielman said. "He actually threw for over 2,000 yards and rushed for over 1,500 yards. But he is such a unique athlete that everybody was looking at him as a receiver, and possibly looking at him as a Josh Cribbs-type, who plays up in Cleveland, who actually was a quarterback."

Spielman said one of thing that impressed everybody was the size of Webb's hands. "So he got into minicamp, we're working him at receiver, we saw him and he was very athletic in catching the ball," Spielman said. "His hands -- what we do, is when we measure these guys, we try to measure all of their body parts. We measure their arm length, we measure their hand length, and his hand is one of the biggest hands coming out of the draft this year.

"His hands are 11 inches long. How we measure them is from the tip of the thumb all the way out to the end of the pinky, and he, by far, has tremendous sized hands. [That's] a huge asset not only as a receiver, but what we found out is, as we were going through that rookie minicamp, he was out there working as a receiver, and coach [Brad] Childress said, 'Let's just throw him and throw some 1-on-1 drills and see what kind of arm he has.' And he was very impressive that one day we put him out."

So as a result, instead of being a receiver, Webb became a quarterback.

"We decided to go ahead and move him and let's take a look at him through these OTAs and this minicamp to see if he can potentially be a quarterback, as well," Spielman said. Webb was been outstanding in all of the minicamps.

"So we'll see what we decide to do with him when we come back at training camp," Spielman said. "But again, you can't deny, you can't teach the athletic skills that Joe Webb has."

Based on how Webb performed at quarterback, and the fact that the Vikings didn't draft another QB, someone else at that position will have to come out of nowhere for Webb not to be at quarterback when training camp starts.

The Vikings have had other sixth-round draft choices wind up playing big roles with the team, and Webb is in that class.

Kundla ranks up there

If the NBA gave John Kundla credit for the National Basketball League championship he won in 1947-48 in his first year as coach with the old Minneapolis Lakers, he would have a total of six professional basketball championships, ranking only behind Phil Jackson at 11 and Red Auerbach with nine.

However, NBA historians don't give Kundla credit for that title, so he is tied with Pat Riley at five followed by San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich, who has four.

While the Lakers were in the NBL in 1947-48, there was a rival league made up of all the bigger Eastern cities called the Basketball Association of America, and the NBA has certified that championship coach in the stats rather than the NBL. The following year, the Lakers, Rochester, Fort Wayne and Indianapolis of the NBL joined the big cities and the title of the league was changed to the NBA.

Jottings

Gophers football coach Tim Brewster talked about starting defensive back Kim Royston: "It's really unfortunate: this spring, Kim Royston broke his leg. He had surgery, he's making amazing progress. I think he's weight-bearing, he's doing some very light jogging at this point, and we really think that Kim's going to be ready to go the week of the Middle Tennessee game, Sept. 2."

New turf similar to the turf installed in TCF Bank Stadium has been installed at the University of Minnesota Gibson-Nagurski football practice facility. The cost of the turf was $475,000.

The NFL had a man described as a checker viewing the Vikings OTAs to make sure there isn't too much hitting, meetings or other activities. It turns out the Lions, Jaguars, Raiders and Ravens got busted for having too much hitting, losing OTA days as a result.

While he was ineligible to play basketball at Minnesota last year, Trevor Mbakwe did well in the classroom, posting a grade-point average of better than 3.0. In fact, the basketball team might have one of its best academic quarters in a long time. Mbakwe tells friends he never did visit Memphis or any other school as reported, and that he wants to stay at Minnesota. Gophers athletic director Joel Maturi, who wouldn't allow Mbakwe to play last season because of a felony charge, said that if the Miami courts continue to postpone the trial like they have, he will take another look at his decision and allow Mbakwe to be eligible for the 2010-11 season.

Meanwhile, while there are rumors that Kentucky is after former Mr. Basketball Royce White, and the word is that White will have to attend junior college in order to get eligible after dropping out of Minnesota in the middle of the semester. Gophers coach Tubby Smith said he hasn't decided whether he would take White back. However, they did meet some time ago. You want my opinion? I believe if White can get the academic OK that Smith will give him another chance.

Ex-Gopher Marcus McKenzie has signed with Calgary of the Golden Baseball League and will be a starting pitcher against British Columbia on Tuesday.

The Gophers football team will host its fourth annual Youth Day on Thursday at TCF Bank Stadium. The event starts at 1 p.m. and features kids from grades 3 to 8.

Pat Neshek, who is working his way back to the Twins, has a 2.00 ERA in four games at Class AAA Rochester, including three shutout innings against Charlotte on Saturday night. ... Former Gophers and Twins pitcher Glen Perkins still is struggling at Rochester with a 1-6 record and a 7.76 ERA. ... Toby Gardenhire, son of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, is getting a good chance to play at Rochester and is hitting .279.

On Thursday, the College World Series will honor the 1960 CWS all-tournament team in Omaha. Representing the 1960 champion Gophers will be pitcher Bob Wasko, Howard Nathe, Ron Causton, Lee Brandt, Clyde Nelson and Larry Molsather.

Former North Dakota State star Ben Woodside, an Albert Lea, Minn., native, was turned down by the NBA, but he is having a great season in the French BCM league with Gravelines Dunkerque, averaging 14.2 points, 33.7 minutes and 4.5 assists per game.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale reported that ex-Gopher Damian Johnson was one of four players working out recently for the Miami Heat. The same story reported that Ryan Wittman, the former Cornell star from Eden Prairie, will be among a number of second-round picks to be involved in a mass workout this week hosted by the New Jersey Nets.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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