Apr 26, 2012; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman addresses the media as he introduces the 2013 1st round draft picks at a press conference at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings Idea to “Redshirt” Rookie QB May Not Work Out


Peter King of the MMQB visited Winter Park recently to chat with Rick Spielman to talk about the quarterback class in this year’s draft.

Spielman, in his usual fashion, didn’t exactly give away any of the team’s plans, except for one possibly important tidbit of information. Spielman told King that if the Vikings were to take a quarterback in this draft (and it seems almost a lock that they will), that “we would want to want to redshirt him.”

Spielman said the team brought back Matt Cassel so they could have a starter for 2014 and any rookie brought into the fold would use this next season “as a learning year.”

On the surface, the idea makes plenty of sense. If the Vikings decide to pass on drafting a quarterback with the 8th overall pick and grab a signal caller in the second or third round, that quarterback probably will not be ready to start right away. And instead of throwing him into the fire, the team could put him on the “Aaron Rodgers plan,” so to speak, and hope he develops on the bench.

Of course, that all happens in an ideal world. Life in the NFL is almost never ideal.

An article posted on NFL.com today provided data that makes it seem likely the team’s rookie signal caller will see the field sooner rather than later. In the past five drafts, there have been 25 quarterback prospects taken in the first three rounds.

20 of those 25 were starting by the ninth game of their rookie year. And 14 starter their first NFL game.

Now, is it inherently bad that the Vikings might play a rookie quarterback, one who will probably be seen as the proverbial “quarterback of the future,” in year one? Of course not.

But the idea of stashing and developing a guy in the NFL is simply not a reality. “Developmental” prospects taken in the first three rounds won’t have a lot of time to develop before seeing the field (ex. Tom Savage, Logan Thomas).

The only reason three of the five quarterbacks who did not see action as a rookie rode the bench is that their team already had strong signal callers in place. Alex Smith had the best year of his career at that point when Colin Kaepernick was drafted, and Ryan Mallett and Brock Osweiler were taken as potential heirs to Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

In other words, those guys were a little better than Matt Cassel.

And while it’s easy for Rick Spielman to say he’s okay with having Cassel as his starting quarterback right now, there’s almost no way Cassel will make it through 16 games without at least some calls for his benching.

If Cassel has an outing like he did against Carolina or Cincinnati last year, fans will start telling Spielman to put in the kid. And recent history has done nothing to suggest that we won’t see an outing like that from Cassel some point in 2014.

So in two weeks Spielman can’t draft Savage or Thomas with the hopes of them riding the pine for a year. He can’t draft Zach Mettenberger or Aaron Murray and think he can use their knees as an excuse to keep them on the bench. It’s just not realistic.

For rookie quarterbacks, there’s no “redshirt” season. It’s sink or swim, and Spielman needs to make sure he drafts a quarterback in two weeks equipped to do the latter in year one.

What do you think Vikings fans? Is there still such a thing as a “developmental” quarterback prospect in today’s NFL? How many signal callers in this draft would you be comfortable with as a starter? Sound off in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter @Goatman102!

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Tags: Peter King Rick Spielman Vikings

  • Randy Reum

    I don’t see anything wrong with sitting a guy for 1 year. Let him learn without the pressure. Just because other teams rush a guy into action does not mean the Vikings have to do it.

    • David Mallow

      Exactly…. look what happened to Ponder… Noone to learn from and thrown to the wolves. Sets these guys up for failure.

      • Bob E.

        I agree entirely with both of you but, remember when McNabb was floundering and all the Viking fans were calling for Ponder? “If you are going to be shit anyways give the rookie the experience.” Was the sort of thing flying around… If all we were hearing are praises of Manziel or Bridgewater from the media while they were riding the bench and Cassel was throwing 4 interceptions a game, would you feel the same way?

        • JJ

          Totally agree with you on that one Bob

        • Darren Wolf

          People also forget that there was a lockout before Ponder’s first year. Yes they took a (bad) flyer on McNabb & 5 games in wanted the rookie to start but imagine if he actually had an offseason to learn and interact with the coaches and a training camp to prepare. Maybe he would’ve been better equipped to take over then.

  • guest

    Even if Cassel goes down because of poor play or injury, Ponder would be the next in line to start anyway. I doubt the QB that’s drafted will be thrown in the fire right away and fed to the wolves. There’s only so many Andrew Luck’s & RGIII’s out there that can pull it off, and they were light years beyond this class of QB’s. Of course dumber things have been decided by the team before *cough* Josh Freeman *cough, so I wouldn’t be surprised if that did happen.

    I don’t care if they draft Johnny Football himself and his publicity; unless he WOWS everyone in camp and blows out the competition like Russell Wilson, or both Cassel & Ponder get annihilated in the regular season…expect him to hold the clipboard while keeping his seat warm.

    • Chuck Foreman

      Two words. Trust Norv’. offense will be new to the players. If Norv feels Cassel is the right guy for a given game. I don’t think I would second guess Norv, even if the lose some while they are learning the new system. If he thinks another QB should start, same deal. We need to realize this likely is a rebuilding year and do what is best for next year and beyond.

  • Spencer Davis

    I don’t think it’s too crazy of an idea to keep our rookie qb on the bench for his entire first year. Of those 20 out of 25 that started in their first season, how many were successful? Maybe a lot of those guys who weren’t, could have been benefited by a redshirt year. Call me crazy, but depending on who we take and how they look in training camp, Ponder might be the backup this next year and the rookie could be the 3rd stringer.

    • Darren Wolf

      I believe regardless of how it works out due to injuries and/or ineffectiveness, Spielman will draft a QB with that exact mindset that Cassel will start & Ponder is the backup. Even if he goes for Mettenberger or Murray and 1 of the 2 QB’s in front of them say goes on IR, I believe he’d swing a deal to sign a backup vet before throwing the rookie in, especially considering their knees situation.

  • Mark Juel

    There is the option of trading for an established QB. With so much up in the air with these QBs, why not go after RGIII? Come up with a decent package and go after him. You have Norv Turner with ties to Washinton. Last year Washington looked overly concerned and afraid of their star getting hurt. They have done a lot to get him. With all of their concern, it would not be too hard to see why they might try to get something for him instead of losing it all,

  • Grant Gaines

    I don’t think there is such thing as a “developmental” quarterback but I do believe that quarterbacks develop obviously in one way or another. The question is not what its how. How quarter backs develop differ depending on the situation. We can’t have an “Aaron Rodgers plan” because we don’t have a Farve, We have Matt Cassel so the development process has to fit our situation. The one size(method) fits all mentality can kill a team if your not true to yourself. Now with that said I will say this, as much as the media bashes Manziel if you give him an elite running back two above average receivers and a tight end with an defense with the capability to play above average we are looking at a “Russell Wilson plan”. Good defense, Elite running back and a quarter back that if he has to can scramble for a first to extend drives. If we are honest and just look at his play and leaving the other stuff aside ,it may be worth a pick if he is still on the board. I feel in order for him to succeed he needs pieces in place which is what most quarterbacks need and what we can offer.

    Ps… outside of Lynch and Harvin Seattle’s weapons are scarce. We have AP, CP, Greg Jennings and Rudolph, Though our defense is on the rise and not where Seattle’s is we have more to offer on offensive side.

    • gagu

      I don’t know if Seattle is a good example. My understanding is that Wilson flat out won the starting job in training camp. Jackson had been brought in to start, but Wilson proved ready.

      It was drfimately a mistake to make Jackson the starting QB in his rookie year, and pronanly the same with Ponder. Both have talant, both were not NFL ready. It’s a mistake to throw a kid into the fire to appease anxious fans. Everyone loses in the long run.

      Every player is different. I feel that would be very realistic to sit Mettenberger or Murray for a year bexause of their knees. Same with Savage or Logan because of their inexperience. A good GM doesn’t cave to instant gratification. .

      • Grant Gaines

        I understand where you are coming from. I just used Wilson as an example just because of the situation he was put in. I feel most quarter backs need pieces in place to succeed. This has nothing to do with what fans want ,its for what’s best for a team in the heavy passing NFC North division. I’m not opposed Mettenberger or Murray but I don’t think it would have mattered whether ponder would’ve sat or played. Thats what I’m saying its a matter or opinion and preference on to whether you want someone holding a clip board to learn by being thrown into the fire early, development is still into play and you you have to produce when your number is called. Ponder is just not consistent enough to start and Jackson just isn’t very good, lets call a spade a spade. As far as drafting a Quarter Back first its on Norv at the end of the day to what he wants. But like I said we have to look at our team honestly and our situation.

        Spielman can not afford to make a mistake this time and Im not speaking in terms of a instant gratification. I’m speaking in terms of need, which is the quarter back position long term and also to prolong Adrian Peterson’s stay in Minnesota. Spielman is required to protect what he has invested and set us up to where we can succeed without him. Right now we can not but with a couple more good drafts maybe we can be in position to. I also feel like if Mack is on the board we should take him. Not many Qb’s I would take in the first but a couple. If we did take one I mentioned Manziel because I honestly believe he can be a good quarterback my only concern with him is if he can read defenses. Nobody wants a Vince Young. I also believe he is demonized by the media, I feel Bridgewater is better than advertised as well, We soon forget his college career because of a pro day but again I cool with ANYBODY under center as long as they can get the job done.

        • Grant Gaines

          I just don’t want us to be in a position of regret because we passed on a potential great player. Remember we did pass on Aaron Rodgers as we failed twice selecting Troy Williamson in the first and Eramus James in the second, missing out on him twice! We don’t even remember those selections which should never happen in my opinon. So please hear my heart when I say I just want the right decision at the end of the day.

          I Personally like the crop of QB’s that will be in next years draft more than this years but there is no guarantee we will be in a position to nab any of them so I feel we can’t take this years pick too lightly.

  • Cool Jack

    Good to see loyal Viking fans on this site…I agree with all of you… I believe that RS will take the best possible at #8 then hopefully take a David Carr ….No matter who he takes….if they start to loose….everyone will want the rookie….I am very impressed with the new coaching staff and I believe this team with Cassel will make the playoffs…GO KINGS…!

    • Darren Wolf

      They better not take David Carr! Now maybe Derek Carr but definitely not David.

  • squentez

    Bridgewater sitting behind Cassel and being developed by Turner for a year is a great plan

  • Gordon Guffey

    People are going to be blown away when things dont work out like they hoped ~ Cassel will be the starter and Ponder will be the backup ~ Other than in a couple of games the offense avg. 23 points a game and that was without AP rushing for 2000+ yards ~
    Everyone wants a QB like Wilson who was the QB of the Seahawks and helped them make it do the super bowl ~ But guess what Wilson is not some kind of passing king ~ Nor did he pass close to 300 yards in every game either ~ What he did was keep his turnovers down while playing on a lot of short fields that his defense set him up for ~
    Fans need to get a grip on this draft a QB no matter what idea ~ Draft the BPA ~ Know matter who is the QB they will be riding the back of AP and his backup ~ Everyone thinks Noev is going to install some pass happy offense that needs a QB with a magic arm ~ That has never been the case folk ~ Norv is a run first team and uses that to set up his play action pass be it shot or deep ~
    Draft day will answer all the questions and there are going to be a lot of upset fans who think the Vikings are going to throw deep 10 or 15 times a game ~ Its not going to be that way ~ Well thats JMHO ~

    • Grant Gaines

      I definitely see what you are saying. I honestly think our best offseason acquisition was adding a
      Norv Turner, he has a knack for maximizing what he has which was seen in Cleveland. What I will disagree with you on is the quarter back situation in regard to AP. Now if Mack is still availible you get no qualms from me with that at all. But understand we are at a place where we need to help AP to the point he just adds to an already effective offense. We need to try to help prolong his career not ride him into to dirt. When Farve was in town all that 8, 9 man in a box stuff was out the window. Now Farve may not be a good example because he is a one of a kind player. Now I don’t believe we need to draft a QB not matter what but “due diligence” which is what we’ve been doing is what needs to continue to be into to play. Somebody is going to slip in this draft and we have to capitalize whether its Mack or whoever.

      But if Cassel was somewhat successful under Bill Musgrave we can not underestimate the Norv Turner signing. Maybe Cassel’s a better answer than what we think but theres no guarantees anyway you look at it. All I know is we can not keep riding AP the way we have been. Good post though, Again that Norv Turner signing was the best acquisition in my opinion and it will show. We lost five games last season in the last minute or so. Will make the win column shock some people this upcoming season if we a play to our potential