Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett

Dave Martin, Associated Press

Vikings in search of a franchise QB

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS
  • Star Tribune
  • April 6, 2011 - 12:50 AM

The Vikings have made it no secret they hope to find a franchise quarterback in the upcoming draft, a process that has taken them around the country for Pro Days and private workouts with a handful of the top prospects at that position.

"It seems like that has definitely dominated the conversation and for good reason because of our situation," coach Leslie Frazier said Tuesday. "We have other needs other than quarterback, but that is the most glaring one because when you look at teams that played in the Super Bowl and the teams that were in the playoffs, they had quality quarterbacks, guys they can hang their hats on for years to come, and we want to get to that point as well."

The Vikings are playing host to their annual Top 30 visit for draft prospects on Tuesday and Wednesday. The team invites potential draft targets at various positions to Winter Park for interviews, medical checkups and one-on-one meetings with Frazier, coordinators and position coaches. The group of players scheduled to visit this week included quarterbacks Ryan Mallett of Arkansas and Andy Dalton of TCU.

Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman said the pre-draft process has been more "detailed" this year because of the number of private workouts with quarterbacks, but he reiterated that the team can't afford to reach with the No. 12 overall pick just for the sake of addressing a need, albeit a major one.

"There are some things that I've tried to come up with that are out-of-the-box thinking as we process these quarterbacks," Spielman said. "I still think you can't force quarterback. If you're not comfortable with it, you just can't because you're just going to make a mistake. So if we take a quarterback at some point in the draft, it's going to be something that we definitely feel comfortable with."

Spielman said most of the information gathering part of the draft process will be complete by the end of this week. Team officials will then begin setting the draft board next week with the coaching staff in preparation for the April 28-30 draft.

"This will be it," Spielman said. "The last part of this where we're trying to get all these questions answered before going to our draft meetings. There will be times where our coaches or one of the scouts in the office will go out before the draft and there may be one or two [prospects] that filter in here over the next couple weeks."

Despite the spotlight shining on their quarterback situation, Spielman said the team has targeted five positions that could be in play with the 12th overall pick. Spielman obviously wouldn't divulge which positions, but the list likely includes defensive line, offensive line, cornerback and probably receiver in addition to quarterback.

"There are a lot of other needs to fill at that 12th position if it's not a quarterback," he said. "I can tell you this: We're going to take the best player available when it comes to our pick. That I know."

The Vikings reportedly have held private workouts with Washington's Jake Locker, Auburn's Cam Newton, Florida State's Christian Ponder and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi. They attended Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert's Pro Day and had dinner with him that night. Mallett and Dalton are visiting Winter Park.

Spielman and Frazier said they are trying to gain as much information as possible about the quarterbacks' personalities and leadership skills along with their physical talent.

"You're trying to do all the intangible things," Spielman said. "You're trying to do all the objective things you possibly can to make a subjective decision. So going out and doing a lot of [these] private workouts and things like that is something that we felt was extremely important to try and make the right decisions when we come up in this draft."


• The Vikings and Target partnered to host a charity event Tuesday at Winter Park to benefit Athletes in Action. Tony Dungy was the guest speaker.

• Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson and safety Madieu Williams were among 87 current and former players whose charitable foundations benefitted from $1 million in grants from NFL Charities, the charitable foundation of the National Football League.

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