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 before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.

Talking quarterback prospects with Greg Cosell of NFL Films

Posted by: Matt Vensel Updated: May 6, 2014 - 11:01 AM

A few weeks ago, while I was talking to some smart NFL football folks for my Johnny Manziel story, I chatted with Greg Cosell, the respected longtime executive producer at NFL Films.

Cosell’s office at NFL Films in New Jersey is filled wall to wall with tapes of NFL players and college football prospects, and not many, if any, members of the media spend more time watching football. Cosell has many strong but objective opinions, especially when it came to the QBs in this draft, so I wanted to empty out my digital recorder and share them with you guys.

“I would say it’s probably an average quarterback class,” he said during our phone conversation. “There’s certainly not a slam-dunk guy in this draft by any stretch of the imagination. But some, based on their different circumstances, may have an opportunity to develop. But there’s no guy that you say regardless of the situation will be a high-quality starting NFL quarterback.”

Of the top three quarterbacks, at least in the media’s eyes, Cosell liked the potential of Blake Bortles, the Central Florida quarterback who is a popular Vikings choice in mock drafts, most.

“Bortles, to me, would be the best down-the-road prospect because of size, which is a definite attribute,” he said. “I think he’s got a good arm, not a gun. I think he’s got movement ability. I think he’s got the kind of traits that you ultimately look for in an NFL starting quarterback.”

Cosell said “there’s a lot to like” about Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Like many analysts, he has concerns about Bridgewater’s size and arm strength, which he said “is probably slightly above average.” But he likes that Bridgewater was a productive player in a pro system at Louisville and that he excelled at making the right reads and decisions before the snap.

“You would be counting on Bridgewater to be masterful in all the subtle nuances of the position,” Cosell said. “He showed some of that in college, but that is a bit of a leap of faith. You are in some ways counting on him to become a Drew Brees-type player in his ability to master all the subtle nuances and the disciplined elements of the position.”

If you read my Manziel story, you know that Cosell has questions about how the Texas A&M quarterback will translate to the pros. He told me that Manziel “doesn’t have a horse in the race” in the debate over who is the draft’s top passer. You can read his expanded thoughts here.

Cosell praised Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr’s strong arm and said he can “snap it off” from different arm angles. But he said there are some unknowns with Carr because he did not play in an NFL-style offense at Fresno State.

“The thing you have to work on with Carr is that he played in a spread offense with a lot of one-step drops. He doesn’t have any sense of the rhythm of a three-step, five-step, seven-step drop NFL passing game. He’s got to be taught that. Everybody says that’s easy. It’s not easy,” Cosell said. “Another thing you really need to evaluate with Derek Carr is what he does under pressure, because quarterbacks in those kinds of systems don’t face a lot of pressure. They don’t have to throw the ball too often with bodies around them.”

And finally, we talked about LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a pocket passer who seems to make a lot of sense for the Vikings if they wait until the second day of the draft for their QB.

“Zach Mettenberger is 10, 15 years ago your top-five-pick type of quarterback because he’s a big, strong, physical pocket quarterback,” Cosell said. “Mettenberger is a very interesting guy. He’s got the traits that you would theoretically look for in an NFL quarterback. The only thing he can’t do obviously is create random improvisational plays. But he’s a pocket quarterback who can make every throw and is willing to make every throw.”

All this being said -- and I doubt his opinion has changed since we talked -- Cosell believed that the Vikings don’t necessarily need to draft a quarterback with their first-round pick. He thinks they can wait to select a quarterback who could slowly blossom under coordinator Norv Turner.

“I’m not sure that they need to take a quarterback at No. 8,” Cosell said. “I don’t think that there is a guy worthy of that pick and I think they can find a guy to fit what Norv wants to do.”


New England 14 3rd Qtr 0:55
Seattle 24
Miami 83 FINAL
Boston 75
LA Lakers 80 FINAL
New York 92
Arizona 3 FINAL
Montreal 2
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Nashville 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 4 FINAL
Vancouver 2
Miami-Florida 54 FINAL
Florida State 55
Oakland 96 FINAL
Youngstown St 80
Cincinnati 46 FINAL
East Carolina 50
Michigan 66 FINAL
Michigan State 76
Marist 75 FINAL
Canisius 67
Fordham 77 FINAL
Dayton 101
Manhattan 87 FINAL
Monmouth 76
Quinnipiac 100 FINAL
Niagara 105
Utah 67 FINAL
USC 39
Connecticut 68 FINAL
Houston 70
California 90 FINAL
Washington 88
North Dakota St 64 FINAL
Western Ill 62
Penn State 65 FINAL
(22) Rutgers 76
(14) Texas 59 FINAL
TCU 64
Coll of Charleston 49 FINAL
Towson 71
Cornell 53 FINAL
Yale 60
Xavier 68 FINAL
Providence 57
Drexel 61 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 44
Stony Brook 60 FINAL
New Hampshire 52
Maine 52 FINAL
Albany 44
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
(21) Georgia 72 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 80
Arizona 69 FINAL
Colorado 81
Wake Forest 63 FINAL
(4) Notre Dame 92
Loyola-Chicago 56 FINAL
Illinois State 72
(24) Oklahoma 69 FINAL
West Virginia 78
St Johns 73 FINAL
Seton Hall 78
Delaware 73 FINAL
Hofstra 62
Binghamton 49 FINAL
UMass Lowell 66
Vermont 49 FINAL
Hartford 60
William & Mary 72 FINAL
Northeastern 66
Boston College 60 FINAL
(16) North Carolina 72
Virginia 77 FINAL
Clemson 72
(2) Connecticut 83 FINAL
Temple 49
Arkansas 53 FINAL
Alabama 42
Virginia Tech 71 FINAL
Georgia Tech 79
Kansas 58 FINAL
(3) Baylor 66
Canisius 51 FINAL
Rider 52
Monmouth 52 FINAL
Fairfield 54
Quinnipiac 81 FINAL
Saint Peters 50
Butler 55 FINAL
Creighton 62
Wichita State 61 FINAL
Drake 64
Evansville 52 FINAL
Indiana State 67
(18) Miss State 67 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
Villanova 47 FINAL
DePaul 49
Georgetown 73 FINAL
Marquette 80
North Texas 55 FINAL
Rice 58
Auburn 45 FINAL
(12) Texas A&M 78
(11) Arizona State 58 FINAL
Utah 48
Missouri State 56 FINAL
Northern Iowa 64
Michigan 60 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 75
Minnesota 49 FINAL
Northwestern 70
Wisconsin 73 FINAL
Illinois 62
Bradley 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 76
Florida 67 FINAL
Vanderbilt 58
(20) Iowa 88 FINAL
(5) Maryland 93
(1) South Carolina 77 FINAL
Ole Miss 59
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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 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




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