So Vikings general manager Rick Spielman opened up the kimono (sort of) by talking recently with SI's Peter King about this draft's quarterback class and what he thinks of them.
Keeping in mind that NFL GM's are known to be less than truthful this time of year, I still find Spielman's comments in the King column interesting, particularly his quote that there's "no Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning" and no "sure thing" at QB in this draft.
One way to view this is that Spielman's been keeping his eye on all the mock drafts on the Internet that have Ted Bridgewater falling to the Vikings at #8 and he's decided it's time to change the narrative a bit and create more doubt that the team likes Bridgewater enough to take him at that spot. That's a sound strategy if that is what Spielman is doing.
But a part of me does worry that Spielman, and perhaps other members within the Vikings organization, could be overly cautious about drafting another QB early because of what happened in 2011 when the Vikes drafted Christian Ponder #12 overall.
Let's go back to Spielman's "sure thing" comment. If Spielman is waiting for a "sure thing", he could be waiting a long fucking time. Take a look at last year's passing yardage leaders and tell me how many of these guys were considered a "sure thing" coming out of college. Drew Brees (one Super Bowl ring)? Nope. Matt Stafford - he was drafted first overall in 2009, but wasn't considered a can't miss guy from what I remember. How about Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers? I don't think so. Ben Roethlisberger, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco or Eli Manning - who have 8 Super Bowl rings between them? Nope.
Basically, the "sure thing" guys since 1998, a 16-year span, have been Peyton Manning and Luck.
I realize the top QBs in this draft - Bridgewater, Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Derek Carr - all have warts that make them risky picks. But as I mentioned at the end of my "Get to Know 'Em" post on Bridgewater, considering how poor the quarterbacking has been for the Vikings over the past decade, if Spielman and his scouts feel strongly that one of the Big 4 will be, at worst, a good QB in the league, I think if that guy is still there at #8, the Vikings have to take him. With the offensive weapons already in place in Minnesota (Greg Jennings, Kyle Rudolph, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and Adrian Peterson), even getting good quarterbacking on a consistent basis could elevate this offense greatly and make the Vikings a much better team. And how sure can Spielman be that he'll get a shot at a similar or better talent in 2015 or 2016? He can't be.
I'd also encourage you to read this post by Arif Hasan at the Vikings Territory blog, where he points out how much better the odds are of getting a "successful" QB with one of the first 13 picks of the draft compared to waiting later to do it.
Anyway, this is likely another Spielman draft ruse. He is sowing doubt in the minds of everyone about every draft-eligible college prospect out there so nobody has any clue whom the Vikings might draft with their first round draft pick. But considering how high I think the stakes are for Spielman if he swings and misses on another highly-drafted QB (it could get him fired), there is a strong possibility he could play it extra safe in this draft on the QB front.
While I can understand being cautious, the Vikings fortunes won't change for the better until they get a good QB. They didn't get that QB when they drafted Ponder three years ago. But that doesn't mean their guy isn't available this time around.