Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: The Vikings' quarterback quandary

  • Article by: JUDD ZULGAD , Star Tribune
  • Last update: April 25, 2011 - 8:34 AM

 

The vetting process is complete. The speculation nearly finished. 

Vikings officials have dined with Blaine Gabbert. They have watched Jake Locker, Christian Ponder, Cam Newton and Ricky Stanzi in private workouts. They have spent several hours at Winter Park trying to get inside the head of Ryan Mallett and played host to Andy Dalton. 

All that's left is the decision that will play a significant role in determining the direction of this 51-year-old franchise: Will Rick Spielman, Leslie Frazier and Co. use their first-round pick on a quarterback -- something the Vikings have done only two times -- and attempt to end a five-year string of stop-gaps at the position?

Barring a decision to trade up, Newton and Gabbert almost certainly will be gone by the time the Vikings select 12th overall Thursday night. That leaves Locker, Ponder and Mallett as the most likely targets.

Frazier, who served as interim coach for the Vikings' final six games of 2010 before having the temporary tag removed a day after the season ended, made it clear last month that his desire would be to find his next quarterback through the draft.

"In this league you either have one or you don't," said Brian Billick, the former NFL coach and Vikings offensive coordinator who is an analyst for NFL Network. "When you look at the front of this draft, you can almost to a man see why [teams are] in the front end of the draft. They don't have a quarterback."

The Vikings are searching for a quarterback who provides hope and the stability they have lacked at quarterback since Daunte Culpepper suffered a season-ending knee injury seven games into the 2005 season.

"There are some things that I've tried to come up with [in the predraft] process that are out of the box as we process these quarterbacks," said Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel. "I still think you can't force a quarterback. If you're not comfortable with it, you're just going to make a mistake."

There have been reports that the Vikings have Washington's Donovan McNabb on their radar and that the 34-year-old would like to play in Minnesota, but that move again would be nothing more than a potential quick fix.

McNabb is coming off a disappointing season with the Redskins in which he was benched in favor of journeyman Rex Grossman. It's expected that the Redskins will release McNabb. But the NFL lockout means no transactions can be made until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.

Then there is the issue of McNabb's willingness to serve as a mentor for his potential successor. Frazier gave a telling answer when asked about pairing a veteran short-term starter with a rookie.

"He would have to understand that, 'This is what your role is,' " Frazier said.

"It would be up to us to explain that to get the right guy. Otherwise, it really splits your team and stunts the growth of that young quarterback."

There also is Kevin Kolb, whose emergence enabled the Eagles to trade McNabb last year. Kolb is expected to be available as Philadelphia has turned to Michael Vick as its starter. Kolb has started only seven games in four seasons, but at 26 he would provide a potential long-term solution.

McNabb could be obtained for nothing if he's released, while the asking price on Kolb is likely to be a high draft pick or more.

Keeping it under wraps

Spielman and Frazier, who will be working together on the draft for the first time and appear to have just about equal power, have managed to keep the Vikings' thinking very quiet in recent months. Because of the NFL lockout, their primary focus has been on the draft, and there is little question their research on this quarterback class has been extremely thorough.

From Locker's lack of accuracy in the pocket to allegations of drug use by Mallett to the status of Ponder's surgically repaired right shoulder, there isn't much the Vikings don't know about this group.

If the Vikings do select one of the top quarterbacks, odds are they would need to do it early.

They own the 43rd pick in the second round and don't have a third-rounder because they dealt it to New England last year in the Randy Moss trade. One option might be trying to move back in the opening round in order to grab a quarterback, such as Locker, and also recoup the third-rounder in the process.

Waiting until the second round might be a gamble, because there has been speculation that the top seven quarterbacks (Newton, Gabbert, Locker, Ponder, Mallett, Dalton and Colin Kaepernick) could be gone in the top 40. There also could be a run on the position late in the opening round as many teams need quarterbacks.

Spielman has stuck by his long-standing "we'll take the best player available" mantra -- and the Vikings do have a wide variety of needs as they go about retooling their roster -- but not pulling the trigger on the quarterback position when you really need one could prove difficult.

"It's really easy to say, 'Take the best player available at that point and time,' " said Charley Casserly, a former NFL general manager now serving as an analyst for NFL Network.

"But when you're sitting there and you don't have a quarterback, that can be really tempting. Especially this year. If you have free agency first, maybe the Vikings could have gone and solved this. If they don't take a quarterback there [now], Joe Webb could be the starter on opening day. That's a very real possibility."

One argument based on avoiding the quarterback position in this draft is that if the lockout extends into training camp or the regular season, a young quarterback would be lost because of a lack of familiarity with a much-more complex NFL system.

However, that thinking is shortsighted if a team feels that a quarterback from this class has the potential to be your guy for the next seven to 10 seasons.

Standing pat

There also is the philosophy of waiting for the perfect fit, but the Vikings are in for a long and terrible season in 2011 if they are going to hold their breath and hope to get Stanford's Andrew Luck a year from now with the top overall pick.

The Vikings hired Bill Musgrave as their offensive coordinator in part because of the role he played in Matt Ryan's development in Atlanta while serving as quarterbacks coach. Ryan was the third pick in the 2008 draft and stepped right in as the starter, leading the Falcons to an 11-5 finish.

Musgrave's presence might actually help a younger quarterback, because he's expected to simplify the offense and keep only some elements of the heavy-verbiage West Coast system the team employed under Childress.

"You know when you've got to play a rookie, you've got to understand -- like with Mark Sanchez, who went to the Jets -- that you've got a pretty good defense around him so he just has to be a manager of the game in his first year or two," said former NFL coach and current ESPN analyst Herm Edwards. "Don't lose the game. That's what you tell the kids."

The same year Ryan was taken by the Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens moved from No. 8 in the first round to No. 26 and then back up to 18th to grab Delaware's Joe Flacco. The 6-6 Flacco hasn't missed a start and has led the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his three seasons.

Billick acknowledges there are questions about all of the quarterbacks in this draft, but he also makes it clear that is nothing unusual and that there is some serious revisionist history when it comes to how previous classes are now judged.

"Let's be careful," Billick said. "When we go back and talk about [St. Louis' Sam] Bradford and Ryan and Flacco with such glowing terms -- and we should, because they are going to be excellent quarterbacks -- we had concerns for them, too. Bradford, is he going to stay healthy? Matt Ryan, does he have the arm strength? Flacco, he doesn't look like anybody we have in the league right now. Is he too big, is he going to fit?

"They turned out well, but we had questions about them, too. So when I say that there's questions about these guys ... everybody has [questions] every year. We kind of forget after a kid gets in the league and plays well and say, 'Oh, yeah, I had him really high. I knew he'd be good.' No, you didn't. We had some questions about all of them."

The question for the Vikings is this: Have they answered enough of their own queries about this group to be comfortable taking one of them?

  • related content

  • Picking a quarterback: Risky business

    Saturday April 23, 2011

    The Vikings have used their first-round draft pick on a quarterback only twice -- Tommy Kramer in 1977 and Daunte Culpepper in 1999. A number of teams have selected quarterbacks...

  • The top QBs in the NFL draft

    Sunday April 24, 2011

    Blaine Gabbert, Cam Newton and Jake Locker are among those to lead the way.

  • The Vikings' starting QBs since 2005

    Sunday April 24, 2011

    Eight quarterbacks have made starts for the Vikings since the beginning of the 2005 season:

  • Shuffling quarterbacks is a hard habit to break

    Sunday April 24, 2011

    The Vikings are the only team in the NFC North that doesn't have a long-term answer at the most important position on the field.

  • About the 2011 NFL draft

    Saturday April 23, 2011

    When: First round Thursday, 7 p.m.; second and third rounds Friday, 5 p.m.; fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds Saturday, 11 a.m.

  • Jake Locker

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Pittsburgh 27
Arizona 1/3/15 3:35 PM
Carolina
Baltimore 1/3/15 7:15 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 107 FINAL
Dallas 112
New York 79 FINAL
Portland 101
Toronto 116 FINAL
Denver 102
Phoenix 116 FINAL
LA Lakers 107
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 FINAL(OT)
Anaheim 2
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
NJIT 71 FINAL
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
UMKC 73 FINAL
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
UMBC 55
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
UCLA 50 FINAL
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 62 FINAL
Washington 57
Buffalo 56 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
CS-Bakersfield 55 FINAL
California 52
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
UCLA 67
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 58 FINAL
Memphis 57
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close