Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
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!