Friday, October 31, 2014

Vikings eyeing pivots

INDIANAPOLIS—The Minnesota Vikings spent the weekend at the NFL scouting combine pouring over quarterbacks, as thoroughly as any other team in the league.
They’re among the frustrated few—well, there’s more than a few clubs without a quarterback solution—who badly need this draft to produce a long-term answer at the most important position.

The good news for them is that this year’s class is considered a deep one.
The Vikings also are in a potentially-awkward place with the eighth pick in the first round.
None of the top three prospects—Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater, or Blake Bortles—is likely to still be available to them unless they find a willing partner and use other selections to move up.
As evidenced by the performance of Christian Ponder, the 12th-overall pick in a similarly quarterback-deep 2011 draft, there’s a risk in reaching even if the position is the biggest need on the roster.
So the Vikings, if they determine the top three are either impossible or unsatisfying for them, are sure to be giving the second and third tiers of 2014 quarterback prospects a hard look as well over the next two-and-a-half months.
“Obviously, the position is a big need in this league,” coach Mike Zimmer said. “But it’s going to be fun, really.
“I get to look at some of the best guys and try to figure it out.
“Let’s hit on the right one and let’s go to work,” he noted.
“I have the utmost confidence in the scouts and the front-office people,” Zimmer added. “I feel really good about it.
“If I didn’t, I’d be worried, but I’m not.”
Zimmer’s background is defence. General manager Rick Spielman, responsible for the Ponder pick, has yet to procure a proven franchise quarterback in his time as a lead decision-maker for either Miami or Minnesota.
But the Vikings have an ace in hand who will have a heavy influence on the process: offensive co-ordinator Norv Turner.
“Ultimately, that will be my call and my responsibility, but you hire people that are experts in their areas to give a strong opinion on that,” Spielman reasoned.
Spielman has provided candid public evaluations this month of Ponder and his failure to establish himself as the unquestioned starter.
He said an ideal scenario for this season will be to sign a veteran (Matt Cassel is the favourite to bring back), keep Ponder (he’s the only one currently under contract), and draft a rookie.

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