There is little doubt that the buzz surrounding the Vikings as the draft gets closer is that there will be change at quarterback for the Vikings in 2011. Brett Favre is retired (this time apparently for good) and Tarvaris Jackson is an unrestricted free agent. As it currently stands, Joe Webb – the sixth round draft choice in last April's draft – and Rhett Bomar are the only quarterbacks on the roster.
The story has dominated the Vikings headlines since the end of the season, to the point where even head coach Leslie Frazier has said the Vikings need to get a franchise quarterback, whether in the draft, via trade or in the free-agent market. With free agency expected to be on hold until a new collective bargaining agreement is reach – a delay that may well take until after the draft for the first time in the modern free-agent era – there will be additional pressure for teams to fill their needs through the draft, especially at a position as critical as quarterback.
Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel, said that the Vikings are trying to assess all their options – in the draft, in the trade market and, when it finally happens, in free agency.
"I think the quarterback thing is the biggest question," Spieman said of the offseason work plan for the Vikings. "We're looking at all avenues. Is there anyone in free agency, if there is a free agency, that you can fill a hole? Is there anyone from a trade aspect, if there are trades (allowed), that you can go down that route? We're in this process of this draft right now. Do you feel very strongly about any of these kids in the draft where you want to take on at 12 if you're still there at 12? Or is the draft that deep where you maybe go into the second and third rounds and just go with the best available player at 12 and then maybe feel very strongly about a guy you can get later in the draft? I think this is a lot deeper draft class than it has been the past couple years. There are so many different avenues you can go in, and as we put those pieces together we'll kind of slowly bring that in."
Discussion in the NFL rumor mill is that the Vikings may end up looking for two quarterbacks – a rookie in April's draft and a veteran to hold down the fort until he's ready. But Spielman said Webb shouldn't be overlooked. He wasn't drafted (by Spielman) to be a quarterback, but that plan changed during the rookie minicamp just weeks after he joined the Vikings. He is an important piece of the quarterback puzzle regardless of what the Vikings do in the draft or in pursuing a veteran.
"We're excited about Joe Webb and excited about some of the things Joe Webb does and, when you sit there and compare him to the UFAs or compare him to potential trade guys, or compare him to guys coming out in the draft, you're comparing with what we have," Spielman said. "Right now, Joe Webb is what we have, and Rhett Bomar, but how does he stack with all this? I know we're very excited about some of the things that we've seen in Joe Webb and the potential he has, too – from the arm strength, from the athletic ability and some of the positives that he's really shown through the last part of the season last year."
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Spielman: Don't discount Webb
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