Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Vikings QB competition: The Favorite, The Dark Horse, The Underdog

Posted by: Master Tesfatsion Updated: May 27, 2014 - 10:55 AM

Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer got what they wanted at quarterback this offseason.

The Vikings GM and new coach both wanted to create competition at every position, and now have a trio of quarterbacks jockeying for the starting spot. That could be the main storyline at the start of OTAs on Tuesday and throughout training camp.

The Vikings re-signed quarterback Matt Cassel and traded back into the first round to select Teddy Bridgewater with the 32nd overall pick to give Spielman a veteran and a rookie he wanted to acquire this offseason to go along with Christian Ponder.

The situation seems similar to Seattle's around this time two years ago. They signed Matt Flynn, who didn’t have Cassel’s resume but was looked at as a short-term quarterback solution when he signed a three year deal; drafted Russell Wilson in the third round; and had former Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson on the roster.

While everyone assumed Flynn would be the starting quarterback, the Seahawks had an open competition throughout camp. Wilson was named the team’s Week 1 starter, and it has turned out pretty well for the Super Bowl champions.

Not to say the same will happen to the Vikings if Bridgewater starts, but all three quarterbacks will get a shot to prove they’re worthy to start on Week 1. Who is the favorite, who is the dark horse and who is the underdog at the start of this race?

The Favorite: Cassel at this point is probably slightly favored over Bridgewater and Ponder. It’s a new system and a new coaching staff, but Cassel played well at the end of last season and created some good chemistry with some of the receivers (especially Greg Jennings). He’s got the most experience of the group heading into this 10th season and could give Bridgewater more time to develop if the team decides to go that route.

The Dark Horse:  But it doesn’t appear they’ll go that route with Bridgewater, who will get some first team reps along with the other quarterbacks during OTA’s. Zimmer hopes he’ll be the guy if he’s readyand let’s not forget that Bridgewater was considered the most NFL ready quarterback in the draft. The 21-year-old has the ability to start immediately and will get a fair shake in this competition. He already made a good first impression on Zimmer during rookie camp.

The Underdog: Just about everyone is counting out Ponder and how we quickly forget he beat out Cassel for the starting job in camp last year. (OK, so maybe that's a stretch ... since Ponder figured to keep the job coming off a playoff season where he played well in the final month.) Ponder is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which the Vikings opted not to exercise a fifth-year option this offseason for financial reasons. Pair that with the Bridgewater selection, and it’s clear Ponder isn’t in  the team’s future plans.

So what will the team do with its 2011 first-round selection? The best case scenario would be that Ponder flashes some talent during camp and preseason and a team would look to trade a late round pick for him. Let's remember the 49ers traded a sixth-round and possible conditional 2015 pick for Blaine Gabbert. Ponder is better than Gabbert.

 The worst case scenario is the Vikings have an overqualified third string quarterback on the roster, which isn’t a bad thing at all in case Bridgewater or Cassel get injured. It just would be very difficult to see Ponder start on Week 1 again this season.

ADVERTISEMENT

Oakland - J. Lester 7:07 PM
Kansas City - J. Shields
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Boston
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Ottawa 7:00 PM
Winnipeg
Carolina 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Tampa Bay 7:30 PM
Dallas
Colorado 8:00 PM
Calgary
Los Angeles 9:30 PM
San Jose
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Is it the right move to replace Ron Gardenhire?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT