Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
It seems like the closer we get the to the 2014 NFL Draft, the less people seem to like the top quarterbacks in it.
Sure, Johnny Manziel reportedly had a really nice workout for NFL teams, but for the most part there were relatively few concerns about Johnny being able to throw a football. The big questions about his game center around his durability and his ability to go through progressions in the pocket and not bail early.
Hard to answer those questions when you’re just running around in shorts.
This leads to a very interesting question for those NFL teams in need of a quarterback, like the Vikings? Should they just skip this quarterback draft class altogether?
As of right now, the quarterback draft class for next year, 2015, looks very nice at the top. Rising passers like Florida State’s Heisman trophy winner Jameis Winston, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Baylor’s Bryce Petty, and UCLA’s Brett Hundley headline the players who will be eligible to declare next season.
Punting on a draft class is not a foreign concept to NFL teams either. In 2011, the Redskins and Dolphins both needed an upgrade at quarterback but decided to both roll with stopgap quarterbacks for a season in Rex Grossman and Matt Moore.
The two teams were not high on the quarterbacks in the 2011 draft class, and they waited a year to take their two current quarterbacks, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. Washington even traded its first round selection to Jacksonville so they could take Blaine Gabbert.
The Jaguars, Titans and Vikings all decided that they needed their quarterbacks right away and took Gabbert, Jake Locker and Christian Ponder.
While Griffin and Tannehill haven’t performed well enough to really put themselves in the “franchise quarterback” discussion, it’s hard to argue that they haven’t performed better in their two seasons than the three quarterbacks listed above.
And in addition to selecting superior passers in 2012, in 2011 the Redskins and Dolphins selected two players who have both made the Pro Bowl: Ryan Kerrigan and Mike Pouncey.
The 2014 draft class has received considerable praise from analysts and scouts, so it’s very possible the Vikings could pick up a future Pro Bowler in this year’s draft and then possibly select a superior quarterback prospect in 2015.
Of course, the problem with this strategy is it’s a tremendous gamble. While Winston, Mariota, Petty and Hundley are hot names now in college football, it’s possible that with another year to evaluate their game tape media members and scouts change their tune on their abilities to compete at the next level.
Not to mention, some of these guys may not even be available in 2015. Winston, Mariota and Hundley will all still be eligible to play college football for the 2015 season, so they may not choose to enter the NFL next year.
There’s also the caveat that it’s very possible that the Vikings aren’t able to pick one of those players either in a year. There is definitely the sentiment around this team that it is poised for a slight rebound in 2014, meaning they may be picking later than No. 8 overall.
Perhaps by then too many quarterback-needy teams will have snatched up all these passers. Even after passing in 2011, the Redskins had a to pay a fortune for the rights to draft RGIII. The team does not have a first round pick in the 2014 draft after trading up for Griffin.
For the Vikings, there’s also the fact that Adrian Peterson isn’t getting any younger, and one more season spent without a quarterback means one less season he’ll have a real shot at winning a title. It also means the team would have to roll with Matt Cassel under center for all of 2014, which could get dicey (See: Cassel in Kansas City after 2010).
But the team doesn’t want to reach again for a quarterback prospect after 2011, especially when Rick Speilman knows one more miss could cost him his job.
While this may seem like a trivial discussion to some people, it is taking place in the Vikings organization right now. It may take place over five minutes, it may take place over months, but this is a situation I’m sure the team is looking into.
And the decision the Vikings come to will affect the future of this franchise for years to come.
What do you think Vikings fans? Do good things come to those who wait, and would the risk be worth it for Winston or Mariota? Or do you think there’s enough talent and depth in 2014 that the Vikings shouldn’t use up another year of Peterson’s career? Discuss below in the comments or on Twitter with me @Goatman102!