Vikings Will Use First Minicamp to Assess Quarterback Need


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

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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