Frazier to be heavily involved in QB decision

Leslie Frazier's coaching experience comes on the defensive side of the ball, but he plans to be heavily involved in the scouting of high-round draft prospects at quarterback in the coming months. That process started last week at the Senior Bowl and Frazier addressed the questions facing the Vikings at that position.

Leslie Frazier's forte is defense, but Frazier's future might be tied to his ability to select the right quarterback for the Vikings.

Frazier knows that the Vikings need to address the quarterback position and the new head coach has that as his top priority this offseason. He also plans to be heavily involved in the process, despite his defensive background.

"I couldn't envision a circumstance where I wouldn't be (involved) if we thought there was the potential 12th pick. I need to be able to witness that eye to eye, with my own eyes," Frazier said after scouting college talent at last week's Senior Bowl practices.

The opinions vary quite a bit on the incoming class of rookie quarterbacks. Three or four of them are expected to be drafted in the first round, but each of those has questions about one aspect of his game or another, from characters concerns to inconsistency to pocket awareness to throwing mechanics.

Three juniors – Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, Auburn's Cameron Newton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett – were not part of the last week's Senior Bowl. Although the scouting staff had an opportunity to attend their games during the college season, Frazier will have to rely on the NFL Scouting Combine, college pro days, personal workouts and a massive amount of game film to make a judgment on the junior quarterbacks. That's why he can't be certain right now if there is a quarterback in April's draft that is ready to step in and start for the Vikings in 2011.

"The tough part about that is, this is my first time out, along with our staff, of getting out and evaluating guys. And really similar for the scouts, although they've been out for the fall," Frazier said. "But now things have been cleared up about what juniors are going to come out and what seniors are going to be available. So now you really in earnest are in the full evaluation process and we're early in the process. No campus visits yet. No personal workouts. So to make that decision today, even at the No. 1 pick, I don't think you could do it today.

"You almost have to wait and see who that No. 12 pick is. Is it a quarterback who is a sleeper that somebody overlooked for one intangible reason and we see something that this guy could be the guy – we can plug him in and get going. That's hard to predict."

Another option for the Vikings to solve their quarterback quandary is through free agency. Brett Favre filed his retirement papers and Tarvaris Jackson is scheduled to be a free agent, leaving the Vikings with only young quarterbacks Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar under contract for 2011.

Free agency is currently scheduled to begin on March 4, but if no collective bargaining agreement is in place before late April to dictate how things will operate in 2011, the NFL would have its draft before free agency. Frazier said that could make things "a little tricky" in how the team goes about trying to address the position. Even if they have a veteran quarterback in mind to target in free agency that they believe could bridge the gap while a young quarterback is developing, they might not be certain they can sign that player until after the April 28-30 draft.

"That's the dilemma. Not the dilemma so much, but that's the question we have to ask ourselves. Can we turn it over to Joe (Webb) or some other young guy, like you mentioned, and feel good that we have a chance to supplant Green Bay or Chicago?" Frazier said. "So we've got to figure that out, and a lot of that will be determined by who that guy is. If he is a guy who can do what Matt Ryan could do for Atlanta, then you don't feel so bad. If he's a guy that needs to spend a year or two (learning), we've got enough pieces in place that you'd like to have the right guy under center. I don't think that we're that far away, so that may mean bridging the gap to that young guy with a veteran guy. So we've got to explore all those scenarios."

With the long-term success of both the Vikings and Frazier's coaching future on the line, the new head coach plans to be heavily involved in the decision-making process.

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.

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