With the NFL Scouting Combine starting next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock was asked for his thoughts on if the Vikings might take a quarterback with the 12th-overall pick this April.
Vikings vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman and his staff remain in the due diligence stages when it comes to this process. Draft-related meetings are being held this week at Winter Park.
"I think what they have to do is they have to grind the top four guys real hard," Mayock said. "[Missouri's Blaine] Gabbert, [Washington's Jake] Locker, [Auburn's Cam] Newton and [Arkansas' Ryan] Mallett. They've got to look at those four guys and first make the decision that if at No. 12 [they] believe any of them are worthwhile at that pick.
"The second thing they've got to do is say, 'What about if we believe Blaine Gabbert is the best of the four? Are we willing to move up? And if so, how far do we have to go and what's it going to cost? Cam Newton? What do we think about him? Would we be willing to move up or if he's there are we going to take him?' I think that's the first level of discussion.
"I think the second level of discussion is if there's a playmaker there [they want to take]. For instance, if they say, 'Gabbert is the only one we like' -- and I don't know any of this, I'm just throwing it out there as an example -- 'If we like Gabbert and he's not there at 12, then are we going to take somebody else and come back in the second round and who are our choices at that point?
"Basically, you're looking at [TCU's] Andy Dalton, [Florida State's Christian] Ponder, [Iowa's Ricky] Stanzi and [Nevada's Colin] Kaepernick. Those are the four guys that I think comprise the next level. I guarantee you that Rick Spielman and his guys are grinding the heck out of that group of eight players. I think one of those eight has to be a Minnesota Viking next year."
The NFL Network also released Mayock's top five quarterbacks. His list looks like this: Gabbert; Locker; Newton; Mallett; and Dalton.