Monday, April 21, 2014

Rick Spielman's quarterback dilemma

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.


  1. Ricky is doing his CIA-level subterfuge again. If they like Bridgewater -- who unlike Ponder was everybody's consensus #1 when he was playing games and before everyone had months to nitpick him to death -- then they'll take him.

    1. Notch:

      I agree that this is probably BS on Rick's part. And there is probably a lot of BS coming from other teams who need QBs but reportedly will take Mack, Clowney, etc. before Bridgewater. Maybe he's not there at #8 like many draftniks think he will be because of his pro day performance.

  2. Most of the failed quarterbacks have failed in situations where they didn't have any talent around them. That's not true of the Vikings. They have talent in the receiving corp, the O-line and a great running back. They don't need a QB to be a savior, or at least not right away. They don't need a hall of famer, just someone who is consistently good.

    1. Peder:

      And I think Bridgewater is that guy, and he could be much better than "good". Will he be available at #8? I think so, but there is much horseshit being thrown around now you can get buried in it.

    2. Darren, if they take Bridgewater then I hope that you're right. I would love to have better than good. And I agree with you about the metric tons of horseshit out there right now.
      This expanded pre-draft time has been terrible. So many people are using this extra time to over-think everything. If Bridgewater was the top consensus QB after the college season (and he was) then he should still be a good bet. A couple of bad practices absolutely *should not* destroy a career.

    3. Peder:

      I find the expanded draft time a little long myself. But it does give me more time to write these "Get to Know 'Em" posts. 15 days until the draft, isn't it?

  3. Another interesting statistical approach to look at quarterbacks being drafted was put forth in article written by CCNorsemen over at the Daily Norseman a couple of weeks ago. To which, it was concluded that the closest thing to a successful "sure thing" pick would be to select Teddy Bridgewater. Now whether this statistical approach has merit or not, it is definitely a different way to look at the prospects.

    As for the subterfuge level this time of year, it is definitely at DEFCON 1.

    1. Luft:

      Thanks for the link. I will check it out.