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Continued: Should Griffin fall to Vikings, do they dare take a pass?

  • Article by: DAN WIEDERER , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 26, 2012 - 12:41 AM

INDIANAPOLIS — Nowadays, Rick Spielman can't stop smiling.

This whole NFL draft experience, with all its requisite research and hypothesizing, seems to fall right in his wheelhouse, the kind of challenge that causes Spielman to fill binders with new philosophies and historical analysis.

The whole, complicated process gives Spielman an effervescence that was on display Thursday at the NFL Combine.

"I love putting puzzles together," he said with a giddy laugh.

Back in January, when Spielman jumped into this new role as Vikings general manager, he welcomed the pressure and longed to be the final voice on high-stakes personnel decisions.

So imagine this scenario: Some time around 7:15 p.m. on April 26, the Vikings go on the clock with Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III still available.

What then? RG3 as a Viking? Is it possible?

At present, the likelihood the Vikings draft Griffin seems miniscule, what with the GM, head coach Leslie Frazier and just about everyone in the organization standing firm in their belief that Christian Ponder is the long-term answer at quarterback.

But how costly might the gamble be if the Vikings passed on a chance to pull Griffin to the Twin Cities and then the charismatic quarterback lived up to all the hype he's currently generating?

Yes, the Vikings have countless other areas of need. And sure, it would be unconventional and quite awkward to undercut Ponder after only 10 starts. But Griffin just might be the type of puzzle piece that brings the playoff picture back into focus.

He's a difference maker who NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock says is "the most exciting young player in this year's draft."

"The more tape I put on of this kid, the more fun I have watching him," Mayock said. "I've been pleasantly surprised by his pocket awareness, his eyes [remaining] down the field. And the physical toughness is outstanding. ... Bottom line, he's a playmaker. And that's what this league is all about at that position."

'Everything you're looking for'

So what exactly would have to unfold to give the Vikings incentive to grab Griffin at No. 3?

"I came up with a couple [scenarios] already," Spielman said. "I'm not going to share those. But they're a couple doozers."

Added Frazier: "You've got to do your homework. You've got to make the decision that you think is going to be best for the organization. We are confident Christian is going to be an outstanding quarterback and lead us to victories in Minnesota. But you do have to have a feel for these guys who are coming out and know what their potential is and how they might fit if you choose to go down that road."

In truth, no player in this year's draft has created buzz quite like Griffin. Sure, Stanford's Andrew Luck is a near certainty to be selected No. 1 by Indianapolis, already classified as a Hall of Fame-level talent.

But Griffin? Mayock sees a kid whose exuberance is contagious, whose arm is strong, whose speed is off the charts.

All those strengths Ponder exhibited to win the Vikings over a year ago? Griffin seems to rate as good or better in every category. That includes intelligence, mobility, touch and overall presence.

Spielman himself asserted Thursday that Griffin has "everything you're looking for in a franchise quarterback."

Griffin won't throw Sunday at the combine. But he will continue trying to win teams over with his positive energy. As he met a massive horde of reporters Friday, Griffin exhibited no doubts about his ability to excel in the NFL. He asserted that Baylor's offense was quarterback friendly but not "simple" as some critics have suggested.

He let it be known that he's a pass-first, run-second playmaker.

He even showed off his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle socks, part of a unique style he adopted in high school.

Said Griffin: "It's to show I'm comfortable with who I am. I'm comfortable in my own skin."

So what might the risk be of passing on Griffin? The recent past provides notable examples of bungled quarterback decisions that set franchises back.

Jacksonville, for starters, selected Byron Leftwich with the seventh pick in 2003. But the Jaguars' belief in Leftwich proved costly when they passed on chances to select both Ben Roethlisberger and Aaron Rodgers in the next two drafts.

Of the other nine teams who let Roethlisberger slip past in '04, Houston and Detroit likely wound up kicking themselves most, having made significant draft investments two years earlier in David Carr and Joey Harrington, respectively.

A similar missed opportunity haunts the Bears, who used a first-round pick on Rex Grossman in 2003 but subsequently passed on their chance to nab Rodgers two years later. (Instead they drafted running back Cedric Benson at No. 4.)

What's at stake?

On the flip side, in 2010 Carolina drafted Jimmy Clausen at No. 48, hopeful he had the talent and moxie to become their long-term leader. But after a rookie season in which Clausen posted a rating of 58.4, new Carolina coach Ron Rivera insisted his first order of business was finding a franchise quarterback.

The Panthers then used their top overall pick last April on Cam Newton, who quickly rewarded that move by accounting for 4,757 yards of offense and 35 touchdowns as a rookie.

In fairness, the talent gap between Clausen and Newton versus those in the Ponder-Griffin quandary seems vast. So it's best not to get too carried away with that parallel.

But it's not impractical to assess what's at stake for Spielman and the Vikings if they fully support Ponder without giving Griffin serious consideration.

"If it turns out Ponder isn't the answer, it's probably going to set the Vikings back five, six, seven years," said draft analyst Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com.

The St. Louis Rams, it should be noted, remain in the driver's seat with the No. 2 pick, capable of holding a competitive auction for the rights to Griffin long before the Vikings are on the clock.

Beyond that, Spielman will have other highly intriguing options, potentially able to land offensive tackle Matt Kalil, receiver Justin Blackmon or cornerback Morris Claiborne at No. 3. All of those players could help the Vikings immediately.

"But in truth," Wright said, "if you don't have a quarterback, nothing else matters. And to this point, who can say that Ponder has shown nearly enough to make you feel comfortable putting your job on the line to say that he's the franchise quarterback?"

The puzzle table is ready for Spielman. The final say on these franchise-altering decisions are all his.

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    Sunday February 26, 2012

    Of all the positions the Vikings need to upgrade this offseason, linebacker isn't often mentioned at the top of the conversation.

  • Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III is an enticing prospect for teams a the top of the NFL draft. The Vikings could face a difficult decision if he falls to No. 3.

  • NFL COMBINE 2012 THROUGH TUESDAY

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Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19
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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 Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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