Dec 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder (7) warms up passing before the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals beat the Minnesota Vikings by the score of 42-14. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Will Use First Minicamp to Assess Quarterback Need


 

Monday marks a huge day in the Vikings’ never-ending pre-draft process. It’s the day Rick Spielman and his plucky staff begin eight days of meetings during which they will finalize their draft board.

Eight days of going through all their evaluation data, sifting and probing, debating, ranking, deciding who will be at the top, who will be at the bottom, who will be dropped from the board altogether.

All while consuming massive quantities of coffee and pastries.

And you want to hear the funny thing? Even after eight days of that, the Vikings may still not know what they want to do with their all-important #8 overall pick.

The complicating factor for the Vikings, the thing that makes their process so much more gut-churningly difficult this year, is the quarterback conundrum.

To pick a quarterback at 8 or not to pick a quarterback at 8, that is the question that is giving Spielman indigestion.

You can’t blame Spielman if he’s worrying over this question like he’s never worried over anything before. He went through all this three years ago and screwed up royally.

He knows what it would mean to make another Christian Ponder goof. It would mean his head on a chopping block.

So Spielman is going to be extra careful. He is going to cover all of his bases.

One big key to this whole arduous process, according to Spielman himself, will be the team’s three day minicamp, slated to take place April 29-May 1. The minicamp is listed as voluntary but both Matt Cassel and Christian Ponder are expected to attend.

To hear Spielman tell it, it is then that the Vikings will truly make up their mind what they intend doing in the draft.

“Spielman said the big benefit for Minnesota will be that, on the weekend before the draft, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will get his hands on Cassel and Christian Ponder on the field during head coach Mike Zimmer’s first minicamp of the offseason,” Peter King explained in MMQB on Monday. “So Spielman would have had his eight days of meetings, and Turner would have had his three days on the field with the quarterbacks, and then the staff would be able to know: How urgent is our need at quarterback, and how much of a consensus do we have on one of the college guys in this draft?”

That minicamp could decide everything, at least that is how King makes it sound.

If Cassel and Ponder perform up to Norv’s standards, Spielman will feel comfortable taking a QB in later rounds who can sit on the bench for a year and learn.

If Norv comes back with a negative assessment of his veteran QBs, Spielman will feel more pressure to draft a quarterback with his first pick, someone who can compete for the starting job in the first year.

And who will that quarterback be?

The Vikings will spend the next eight days finalizing their board. It could be Teddy Bridgewater at the top, it could be Blake Bortles, it could be Johnny Manziel.

It could be none of the above.

No matter what happens with the eight days of meetings and the minicamp QB assessment, Rick Spielman is going to be one tense dude for the next few weeks.

He’s going to need a bunch of those little rubber stress balls.

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Tags: Christian Ponder Minnesota Vikings

  • Daniel Laxen

    The Vikings should swap Pryor and Ponder before they get going in the draft…

    • Chris Schroeder

      Really?? One trash qb for another one. How does that make any sense at all

      • Daniel Laxen

        Because Ponder has worn out his welcome in Minnesota, as has Pryor in Oakland. A change of coaches can often help a young QB, and other players see things a bit differently. Kind of like what is happening with Chris Cook going to San Fran. Does that mean Cook turns his career around? Maybe not. If you don’t buy into what the coach is saying you’ll NEVER trust him…Now, if you don’t understand that then how will Zimmer be able to motivate any of these pathetic Viking defenders?…The way you are looking at players would mean that as soon as they have failed somewhere they will automatically fail again. Sometimes you can’t see the forest from the trees. Perhaps a different/better coach can get through to a player where the prior coach and the player weren’t on the same page…

        • JJSamurai

          I really don’t think Christian has worn out his welcome. I think Bill Musgrave’s play calling and Leslie Frazier trying to micromanage Christian to maximize Adrian stratagy, which didn’t really work for either player, has definitely worn out it’s welcome. Now that we solved the problem, let’s see what Christian can do? HE did fantastic last year for having an almost all new receiving corps, considering injuries in 2013 and then change of receivers from 2011 then 2012, so zero consistency of his favorite targets, and for what he was allowed to do! He was a far better option than Mcnabb, so he was a very good draft choice. So kudos to whomever was responsible. He has 1 full season, and two partial seasons, let him develop and step in when he has proven ready to do so. His skill set is very good, he needs more mentoring and time, just as Brady and A Rod did before they were ready. Christian was thrown into a system that didn’t have a clue and relied on Adrian to win games, which is just all together wrong.

          • Chris Schroeder

            Well said. I totally agree with u. Ponder has shown very nice potential and with the ole norv at the helm, he should be way better. I still think drafting Savage is the way to go. That guy is going to be a flat out monster and I hope we r the ones to land him

          • JJSamurai

            You might be right, I don’t know much about Tom, but I know he has a lot of interest in him. I think Carr would be the best choice, but it would be great to have a Sammy Watkins, a Hasean clinton dix, a KMack or A Barr, so someone like Savage might work. You might wonder why I bring Sammy Watkins in, but the only reliable 3rd down target is Rudolph now that we lost Harvin. The rest of the crew can’t be relied on to hang on to the ball. Jay Wright (whom I love as a wr) has good hands, but he is too short to fight for the ball. Hopefully Cordarelle can step up next year. Jennings has been great at fighting for the ball, but has dropped a few routine ones on 3rd down. Simpson, as many nice catches as he makes also drops or doesn’t put put out for 3rd down passes. It would be nice to add one Calvin Johnson, Alsshon Jeffery or Percy Harvin type of receiver this draft. That would greatly increase the ability of the qb. I mean behind every great qb there is a guy like Jerry Rice, Isaac Bruce, or Randy Moss lined up on the outside.

          • Daniel Laxen

            Makes no difference if the QB can’t get the WR the ball! Look at the QBs that litter the NFC North. If Ponder wasn’t an absolute bust the Vikings would have NEVER brought in Freeman last year, or don’t you get that? They wouldn’t have played pick a starter all last year…The Vikings need help at LB and CB and that is where they probably go with the 1st pick? When the Vikings take a QB in this draft, and they most certainly will, you may finally come to the conclusion that Ponder was over drafted by a guy that should thank AP every day he has a job!

          • JJSamurai

            They brought in Freeman cause Ponder got injured and Cassel was a bust, or don’t “you” get that?

          • Daniel Laxen

            Every time you write something you show exactly why you can never be taken seriously. Freeman was brought in because Spielman thought his job was on the line. Ponder was the bust and Cassel was the better option. Look at the stats from last year and you see that Cassel had a better TD to INT ratio, and better yards per pass. Tell me something, oh Swami. If Cassel was so bad why did the Vikings resign him and say he would be the starter over Ponder? If you look Ponder is now 3rd on the depth chart. That’s 2 days after the draft!…Don’t come on here and try to bullshit those that know with your version of the story. You have to dig a little but the real story is there…

          • jacknine

            In his first OC stint, Norv inherited a 3rd year QB who was among the worst in the league, almost twice as many picks as TD’s, a total bust. 2 years later, that QB was MVP of the Super Bowl and a place in Canton. Troy Aikman. You never know.

          • Daniel Laxen

            The fact of the matter was that Dallas when Troy arrived was pathetic. He also had a Big Time arm and a ton of developing talent on offense and defense after Tom Landry’s antique team was put to pasture. They fleeced the Vikings trading Hershal and built the best offensive line in history, quite possibly. The same thing is happening in Seattle if you are watching? If Norv was that great a coach he’d still be a head coach. He was the Browns OC last year where was the magic there? His record as a HC is a paltry 118-126-1. Those aren’t stellar numbers guys! By the way the OC at Dallas the first few years was Dave Shula. Yeah look his numbers up! GEEEZE! Ponder is a bust and evidently you are the ONLY ones that don’t already know it!

          • jacknine

            Easy on the caffeine cowboy, just trying to make conversation, no need to get all riled up. Of course there are a lot of variables but you also contradict yourself. Firstly, he is here as an OC, not HC. You then credit Aikman’s success to their defense and OL but then hold Norv responsible for the Brown’s offense without considering he had Weeden and Campbell as QB’s.

            Is it unreasonable to consider the possibility that he will improve the performance of both Cassel and Ponder based on his past results? I don’t think so. Could Ponder still be a bust based on his draft position? Sure.

          • Daniel Laxen

            Ponder IS a bust, period…Look at the offense he had when he got there. There will be at least 5 HoFers from that offense at the end of it. Aikman, Emmitt, Irvin, Allen, Novacek, Stepnoski is close as would have been Tuinei. I didn’t even address the defensive side of the ball! Haley, Sanders etc……I do credit Aikman with Norv’s success. Kind of like what has happened in New England with Brady and any other OC that had Peyton Manning as his QB. Jim Caldwell, really?…Weeden and Campbell are as daunting as Cassel and Ponder that’s a fact! LOL

          • JJSamurai

            Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator are two different things. As far as what did he do in Cleveland, he did some good things in the passing game, that’s what he did. Ponder isn’t a bust and never has been. And, yes the Vikings as a “whole” sucked last year. The defense started to pull their head out of their ass near the end of the year, but too little too late.

        • Mike Bridges

          Pryor is a Seahawk now anyway

          • Daniel Laxen

            Yeah, kind of odd this happened when I bring it up, but Ponder wouldn’t bring much on the open market either…

    • JJSamurai

      We already have Webb on the roster he has the same skill set as Pryor, but if Minnesota doesn’t want Christian and wants to avoid paying him, they need to release him and I guarantee he will be snatched up and become someone’s starter. Until we have a better qb the Vikings have to pay him for another year. …as Cassel has proven to be hot and ice cold(just as he was for KC), with far less upside than Christian, and unless they draft Carr, Bortles and maybe…garrapolo or AJ, and throw him in before the year is out, then Ponder will be back in 2015. As there are no other starter ready qb’s in the draft…So embrace the fact that we will see Ponder, and he can use the fan support, so don’t be a jack ass and boo when he comes in to play.

      • Chris Schroeder

        Webb is a panther my friend. All the qbs u listen aren’t gonna make it in the NFL except maybe Carr and garrapolo. Tom Savage is the way to go

        • Mike Bridges

          Webb will not be a Viking when the season starts. He CANNOT play QB! He was horrible against GB, and he is not an NFL calibre WR either. The Vikings would be better off signing or Drafting a WR and cut Webb, and use Ponder as 3rd string QB behind Cassel, and the new QB, and when the new QB is ready, he will take over and make Cassel the backup.

          • Chris Schroeder

            OMG!!! Dude Joe Webb was signed by the Carolina panthers!!!! HES NOT A VIKING ANYMORE. Didnt you read what I wrote!!!

          • Mike Bridges

            I have no idea how that got past me! I do take a powerful pain med and at times obvious things get by me! I don’t know why all my Viking notifications didn’t alert me to that when it happened. Thanks for letting me know that. Maybe Newton can turn him into a decent WR with his help. That probably solidifies Ponder staying a Viking as #3 QB? At least for awhile, or maybe he will be traded? I don’t see him being cut, cuz he has worth still.

      • Daniel Laxen

        Have you even watched Ponder play JJ? If you look at Ponder and Cassel’s measurable they were nearly identical to start last year…When you throw more INTs that TDs there’s something wrong with the decision making aspect of the young man’s game…As for the Webb statement I probably shouldn’t have wasted the energy to type this out. You obviously aren’t paying attention…

        • JJSamurai

          Thanks for update on Webb, when I wrote that, I didn’t realize they dropped him already. Yes I watched Ponder play, I have no trouble with his decision making or play. I had a huge problem with the play calling and offense as a whole. But spent most the time swearing at the defensive players. As far as picks go, they happen, and most in Ponders case had nothing to do with an error in his judgement. You show me what game and what pick was from an inaccurate pass or error in judgement, I can’t really find any. In almost every case the secondary just outplayed the receivers or jumped a predictable route as I am sure they knew every play they were going to try with Musgraves limited playcard :(. Cassel has Equal amount of picks, however, unlike Ponder, some of Cassels picks were just inaccurate throws, and definite error in judgement. The amount of picks aren’t extraordinary for an NFL starting quarterback, in fact they are quite low. However, the amount of TD passes are also low for both quarterbacks. Cassels are stats are slightly padded from having CFlashP as a target on the screen passes that he rushed in for a TD. Ponder didn’t have that luxury as CFlashP never started with Ponder.

  • Gordon Guffey

    You guys keep trying to blame Spielman for picking Ponder ~ Wake up and do some research ~ Ponder was drafted under the TOA where Spielman only owned 1/3 of the say in anything football ~ Just like when Frazier muscled his way in to making the trade for McNabb ~ Speilman wanted not part of that either ~ It was Frazier and Rob Brzezinski who held the other 2/3 of the vote ~ Now if Rick didn’t want Ponder could he had stop Leslie and Rob from taking him ~ The flat our answer is a big NO he couldn’t ~

    And lets not forget that the following year after Ponder was drafted who was stripped of the power ~ It was Leslie and Rob ~ And who was promoted ~ Rick Spielman ~ Who was given full say over everything football ~ It was Rick Spielman ~ So lets look at the facts and get our story straight ~ It wasn’t Spielman who lost his power are making a reach for a QB in Ponder ~ It was Leslie and Rob ~

    • Chris Schroeder

      Agreed. Now look at who he’s brought in since he got the power. Kalil, Harrison smith, blair walsh, Audie Cole, Patterson, Rhodes, Floyd. There’s a bunch more that hasnt even gotten a chance yet like Marvin Mitchell and few others. Now the josh freeman thing was stupid.