Who will be next young QB for Vikes?
The last few months of sports competition has not been kind to the Minnesota faithful.
For the ninth-consecutive season, the Minnesota Timberwolves finished under .500 and have ground yet another coach through the meat grinder, with the dismissal of Rick Adelman.
The Twins extended good ole’ Gardy for at least another season, as he sets the record in survival for becoming the first baseball manager to keep his job after three – going on four – 90-plus loss seasons.
The University of Minnesota Golden Rioters – er, Gophers – lost to something called Union, a college not even a third its size for the NCAA Championship in hockey.
But the suffering may have looked like it could have been curbed with the late-season surge by our local NHL club, the Wild, after they earned a hard-fought place in the second season – otherwise known as the playoffs.
Although there is plenty of puck to be played, if the first game in the first round against Colorado is any indication, the bleeding of frustration will continue after the proverbial chicken bone was lodged squarely in the proverbial throat of Minnesota’s finest hockey team.
But there is some satisfaction of being the best 69th team in NCAA basketball after the Gophers clinched another exhilarating NIT title.
Hey, the No Interest Tournament obviously is a great leaping point for first-year head coach Richard Pitino, in that he is already on the hot list of other schools, such as Tennessee.
Pitino is reportedly not interested in the Tennessee job, but Gopher fans better be prepared around this time every year of rumors of his departure for greener pastures.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen anytime soon, but Pitino is a young up-and-comer and many top schools will be vying for his services in the near future.
Pile on yet another losing season and coaching change for the Vikings, the long, cold winter of despair continues its trail of Minnesota victimized teams.
Which brings us to a refreshing whiff of spring and new hope for at least one of those already-mentioned teams in tribulation.
It should be marked as an official holiday and it’s an event which revives the lost hope of the previous year.
It is coming and it’s called the NFL Draft.
Even though NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has done his best to curb the excitement of the draft for the hardcore fan by moving it to a primetime slot of Thursday night instead of Saturday afternoon and extending it through three days, this particular draft will be a very intriguing one for the Vikings.
On Thursday, May 8, the first steps of the Mike Zimmer era starts its rebuilding of Minnesota’s football franchise.
With some key free agent pickups of nose tackle Linval Joseph and cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, the defensive leaks from last year’s sinking ship are being filled.
Now onto what will be considered one of the Vikings’ most important drafts in recent history, as they garner the No. 8 pick overall and have eight total picks heading into the affair.
As usual, the weeks leading up to the draft is a blender of smokescreens, misinformation and rumors, with players’ futures hanging in the balance, as well as millions of dollars.
Plenty of scenarios can take place for the Vikings at No. 8, and that pick alone will determine the course they take for the rest of the draft.
There are basically four main areas of big need for the Vikes: quarterback, cornerback, linebacker and offensive guard.
Currently, there are three QBs slated to be potential top 10 selections, with Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater taking a deep dive and being replaced by Fresno State’s Derek Carr.
The other two, University of Central Florida’s Blake Bortles and the enigma and former Heisman Trophy winner Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel slated to be top of the class.
Last year at this time, the slogan of “Tank for Teddy” was being slung around, with Bridgewater’s stock at an all-time high.
But a less than stellar Pro Day showing and some other subpar private workout performances may have pushed the Cardinal slinger to the second round.
At No. 8, the Vikes may have their choice of Bortles and/or Manziel. Carr is also a wildcard here.
With Norv Turner being a crafty and veteran offensive playcaller, if the team goes by system player, Bortles would be the best fit.
Bortles has an imposing pocket presence with his 6-3, 230-pound frame. He can make every throw and is athletic enough to buy time under pressure.
Manziel would be considered the furthest away from a Turner-type of QB. Two of Turner’s QBs include Troy Aikman and Philip Rivers, who were/are pocket passers who can throw downfield.
Manziel is pure athlete, though, and makes plays in many different capacities. He is very accurate on the move and can cause lots of havoc on defenses who try and game plan for him.
His size is a detriment in that he stands just a tad under 6-0 and weighs 210 pounds.
In essence, Manziel is the epitome of a boom-or-bust type of player. If he booms, a team may have another Drew Brees, but his floor is just as low and could be a flash in the pan type of player.
Carr is also a distinct possibility, who possesses the strongest arm in the draft.
He has solid pocket size at 6-2, 215 pounds, with an arm which can push the ball downfield, which is right in Turner’s playbook.
Carr will have to take at least a year to accustom himself to running an offense under center, since the majority of his snaps at Fresno State were out of the shotgun.
If indeed a couple of these QBs are gone and a defensive player like Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack (to be discussed in next week’s draft column), the route of taking a QB in either the second or third round will come into play.
Four players fit that bill, especially if Bridgewater starts to tumble. The others being LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Alabama’s AJ McCarron and East Illinois’ Jimmy Garoppolo.
Mettenberger and Garoppolo each are strong-armed quarterbacks, with the technician being McCarron.
If one of those four are selected, expect a full year of Matt Cassel, if not more, for each of these signal callers to develop.
As of now, here are my quarterback scenarios which could occur May 8-10:
* Vikes have the choice of Bortles and Carr. Manziel’s ceiling makes him a top five pick, with at least two offensive tackles going, Jadeveon Clowney being No. 1 to Texans and wide receivers Sammy Watkins and Mike Evans going early, along with Mack going in the top seven.
Bortles may have the edge over Carr, simply because of size and him fitting Turner’s system better.
That opens the rest of the draft to nab a guard and the rest defense.
* The Vikes feel none of the top three QBs are worth risking with their top pick. No matter who falls, they hope their No. 1 man – Mack – falls to them or they select CBs Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert.
They have been linked heavily to Mettenberger, who could be had early in the second round. If Carr and Bridgewater fall past the Vikings, both could fall to the team in the second round, as well.
That, ultimately, would be the best case scenario for the Vikings.
Here’s my little twist if this scenario becomes reality: They throw more noodles at the wall by selecting another QB in the later rounds, such as the rising Tom Savage of Pitt, David Fales of San Jose State or Brett Smith of Wyoming.
If the Vikings take a QB in the second, it wouldn’t be out of the question they select another with one of their two third rounders or fourth.
Savage is very intriguing with his massive size of 6-4, 230 pounds, or even Tajh Boyd in the fifth round.
* Trading up is probably not an option, since Viking GM Rick Spielman isn’t one to give up too many picks, he wants more, in fact.
Trading down is a very good possibility, especially if Watkins or Evans falls. That could also be the case if one of the top tackles in Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson slips to No. 8.
That would enable the Vikings to find a partner to trade down, gather more picks, then select one of the falling QBs like Carr or Bridgewater.
Although it will not be known until who the No. 8 pick is actually announced where the Vikings will select a quarterback, one thing is certain – and that is one will be select in the first three rounds.
Next week, the breakdown of some top defensive positions the Vikings will zero in on.