Vikings' win over Redskins will be felt in draft

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 22, 2012 - 10:13 PM

That rare victory last season cost the Vikings the sought-after No. 2 pick. Now their options are limited.

hide

Reserve quarterback Joe Webb (14) led the Vikings over the Redskins last December, but the victory was costly in terms of dropping from No. 2 to No. 3 in the NFL draft order.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Two games in the past few years have dramatically altered the course of Vikings history.

The first is obvious. The overtime loss to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game following the 2009 season cost a talented roster a chance at a Super Bowl victory and led to Brett Favre's reluctant return, the desperate trade for Randy Moss, the firing of Brad Childress, the hiring of Leslie Frazier, the rise of Rick Spielman and the team's temporary descent into irrelevance.

The second was less dramatic but could be similarly meaningful for the future of the Minnesota/Los Angeles Vikings.

When backup quarterback Joe Webb led a comeback 33-26 victory against the Redskins at FedEx Field last December, Frazier pumped his fist and his players celebrated, relieved to have secured an all-too-rare victory.

Spielman, now the Vikings general manager, should fly Webb to the draft on Thursday, just so he can kick him in the shin.

Christian Ponder might want to give Webb a hug.

That Redskins victory cost the Vikings the second pick in this week's draft. If the Vikings had remained at No. 2, they would have faced a fascinating and appetizing decision: Whether to select Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, or trade him for the kind of ransom the St. Louis Rams acquired from the Redskins -- three first-round picks and a second-rounder.

My view is that Griffin, presuming good health and the right situation, will be a star. The Vikings could have either traded Griffin, or kept him and traded Ponder. Either move would have filled Winter Park with talent and optimism.

Instead, Webb's Charge left the Vikings with the third pick in the draft, severely limiting Spielman's options while, perhaps, improving Ponder's chances of succeeding as an NFL starter.

With a slew of picks, the Vikings would have been positioned to become the next Packers or Lions, or early-'90s Cowboys, a team built from the ground up via the draft. With the third pick, assuming the Vikings aren't offered a surprising ransom between now and Thursday night, Spielman is almost obligated to take USC tackle Matt Kalil, a safe and promising player at a position of need.

Adding an offensive tackle with the No. 3 pick is hardly optimal for the Vikings. Only one of the past 10 Super Bowl winners chose their left tackle in the first round: the Colts. As important as left tackle seems to be, left tackles don't win championships. A good offensive coordinator can scheme around having a good-but-not-great player at that position.

Here's why the Vikings might benefit from their predicament anyway, why Ponder might want to hug Webb, and why that Redskins game was so pivotal:

Webb's performance that day, and the hit that knocked Ponder out of that game, meant Webb was given a tryout as a starting quarterback. His inability to efficiently run an offense confirmed that Ponder is the Vikings' quarterback of the future.

During that Redskins game, Adrian Peterson suffered a knee injury that means he can't be counted on to be his typical, exceptionally productive self this season. That means Ponder will have to be responsible for carrying the offense, and the offense will be considered a work in progress, and the Vikings a rebuilding team, which will force Spielman and Frazier to be patient with their second-year quarterback.

Ponder's injury during that game also provided a reminder of how important it is to protect him.

Ponder looked more composed during his first NFL start, in Carolina, than in his eighth, at Washington. A mediocre offensive line and lousy batch of downfield receivers left Ponder, a mature, intelligent 24-year-old (he was 23 last season), looking twitchy.

Ponder's development might hinge on improved protection, and Kalil's addition could go far in making Ponder feel more comfortable in the pocket.

Because Webb blew the chance of drafting or trading Griffin, Ponder is now the most important figure in the Vikings organization. Under these circumstances, hiring Kalil as his bodyguard makes sense.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia - K. Kendrick 11:10 AM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 11:10 AM
Tampa Bay - D. Price
Arizona - W. Miley 11:35 AM
Cincinnati - A. Simon
Washington - T. Roark 11:40 AM
Miami - B. Hand
Oakland - J. Hammel 1:10 PM
Houston - D. Keuchel
Pittsburgh - C. Morton 2:45 PM
San Francisco - T. Lincecum
LA Angels - G. Richards 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Seattle - F. Hernandez 6:05 PM
Cleveland - C. Kluber
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi 6:08 PM
Detroit - M. Scherzer
Toronto - M. Buehrle 6:10 PM
Boston - B. Workman
Colorado - B. Anderson 7:05 PM
Chicago Cubs - T. Wood
NY Yankees - H. Kuroda 7:05 PM
Texas - C. Lewis
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - D. Duffy
Atlanta - A. Wood 9:10 PM
Los Angeles - Z. Greinke
St. Louis - J. Kelly 9:10 PM
San Diego - J. Hahn
NY Giants 8/3/14 7:00 PM
Buffalo
Toronto FC 6:00 PM
D.C.
Colorado 6:30 PM
New England
Vancouver FC 7:30 PM
Chicago
Red Bull New York 8:00 PM
Real Salt Lake
Winnipeg 7/31/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Toronto 8/1/14 6:00 PM
Montreal
Brt Columbia 8/1/14 9:00 PM
Calgary
Saskatchewan 8/2/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 8/7/14 7:30 PM
Winnipeg
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 pm
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pm
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pm
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pm
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis Noon
Sep 14 - vs. New England Noon
Sep 21 - at New Orleans Noon
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close