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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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San Francisco - WP: J. Affeldt 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Guthrie 2
New Orleans 7:25 PM
Carolina
Tampa Bay 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland
Arizona 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Philadelphia 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Houston
NY Jets 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Jacksonville 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati
San Diego 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Washington 11/2/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
St. Louis 11/2/14 3:05 PM
San Francisco
Denver 11/2/14 3:25 PM
New England
Oakland 11/2/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Baltimore 11/2/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Indianapolis 11/3/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
Milwaukee 106 FINAL
Charlotte 108
Philadelphia 91 FINAL
Indiana 103
Atlanta 102 FINAL
Toronto 109
Brooklyn 105 FINAL
Boston 121
Washington 95 FINAL
Miami 107
Chicago 104 FINAL
New York 80
Minnesota 101 FINAL
Memphis 105
Detroit 79 FINAL
Denver 89
Houston 104 FINAL
Utah 93
Golden State 95 FINAL
Sacramento 77
LA Lakers 99 FINAL
Phoenix 119
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Portland 106
Detroit 4 FINAL
Washington 2
Nashville 4 FINAL
Edmonton 1
(2) Florida State 6:30 PM
Louisville
Troy 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulane
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:02 PM
Memphis
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Army
ULM 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Texas A&M
(19) Oklahoma 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Northwestern 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
(24) Duke 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Maryland 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
Wisconsin 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
Rice 11/1/14 11:00 AM
FIU
(21) East Carolina 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Temple
UCF 11/1/14 11:00 AM
Connecticut
Boston College 11/1/14 11:30 AM
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Miami-Florida
Washington 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Central Mich 11/1/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
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Miami-Ohio
Western Ky 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
NC State 11/1/14 2:00 PM
Syracuse
Virginia 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech
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(17) Nebraska
BYU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Middle Tennessee
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(20) West Virginia
Indiana 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 11/1/14 2:30 PM
(9) Georgia
Georgia State 11/1/14 2:30 PM
Appalachian St
Kentucky 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Kansas 11/1/14 3:00 PM
(12) Baylor
Texas State 11/1/14 3:00 PM
New Mexico St
Houston 11/1/14 3:00 PM
So Florida
USC 11/1/14 3:30 PM
Washington St
Arkansas State 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
South Alabama 11/1/14 4:00 PM
Louisiana
New Mexico 11/1/14 4:30 PM
UNLV
UAB 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
(4) Auburn 11/1/14 6:00 PM
(7) Ole Miss
Old Dominion 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Colorado State 11/1/14 6:00 PM
San Jose St
Arkansas 11/1/14 6:15 PM
(1) Miss State
Stanford 11/1/14 6:30 PM
(5) Oregon
Tennessee 11/1/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina
Texas 11/1/14 6:30 PM
Texas Tech
Southern Miss 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
(6) Notre Dame 11/1/14 7:00 PM
Navy
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Illinois 11/1/14 7:00 PM
(13) Ohio State
(14) Arizona 11/1/14 9:30 PM
(25) UCLA
California 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
San Diego St 11/1/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Wyoming 11/1/14 9:45 PM
Fresno State
(18) Utah 11/1/14 10:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Utah State 11/1/14 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Bowling Green 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Akron
Toledo 11/4/14 7:00 PM
Kent State
Buffalo 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ohio U
Northern Ill 11/5/14 7:00 PM
Ball State
Vancouver FC 1 FINAL
FC Dallas 2
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
Montreal
Ottawa 11/7/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Calgary 11/7/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
Montreal 11/8/14 3:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/8/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan
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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
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Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
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