Last Thursday, they decided to put their faith in Florida State's Christian Ponder, making him the 12th overall selection in the first round. There had been some thought the Vikings might take Washington's Jake Locker but he already was gone to Tennessee at No. 8.
Locker was the second of three quarterbacks to go in the top 10. Carolina had selected Cam Newton No. 1 and Blaine Gabbert fell to 10th before Jacksonville worked a trade with Washington take him.
The selection of Ponder wasn't met with positive reviews from fans attending the Vikings' draft party at Winter Park. Their preference seemed to be that Minnesota would have selected Nebraska cornerback Prince Amukamara, but the fact the Vikings went the quarterback route should have surprised no one.
"Quarterback was a huge need for us, everybody knows that," said Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel.
The hope of Spielman and new coach Leslie Frazier is that Ponder will end the succession of veteran quarterbacks the Vikings paraded through Winter Park during Brad Childress' four-plus seasons as coach.
The Vikings were impressed by Ponder at a private workout last month that was attended by Spielman, Frazier, new offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave and quarterbacks coach Craig Johnson.
"You rarely get a chance to take a swing at a young quarterback and we felt that it was a no-brainer to take Christian Ponder," Spielman said.
Ponder becomes only the third quarterback taken by the Vikings in the first round in their 51-year history, joining Tommy Kramer (1977) and Daunte Culpepper (1999).
Ponder had a 22-13 record as a starter in four seasons at Florida State and is known for his intelligence —he earned his undergraduate degree in 2.5 years and obtained his master's degree before his senior season —but also being somewhat injury prone.
Ponder said the expectations he will face won't impact him. "I've dealt with being the face of Florida State and handling the pressure there," he said.
"Obviously, it's a whole nother level in the NFL, but I don't think anyone puts as much pressure on me as I will myself. No one's expectations exceed mine."
The Vikings could attempt to sign a veteran free agent to play in front of Ponder for a season, but there also is the chance he will step in as the team's starter. Frazier said Ponder will be competing with Joe Webb and Rhett Bomar for the job, but that's a bit hard to believe.
"I want it to still be an open competition with the guys that are on our roster," Frazier said. "It will be those three. What happens with free agency? Who knows? We'll eventually get to that point. But right now it's a competition between those three and we'll line up with the best guy when we get ready to line up against the Chargers [on Sept. 11 in the regular-season opener]."
The Vikings did not get rave reviews from all when they used the 12th overall pick on Christian Ponder but the team was in desperate need of a young quarterback to build around and the Florida State product provides some hope that now will be possible.
Vice president of player personnel Rick Spielman sent a fifth-round selection to Cleveland for two sixth-rounders, giving the Vikings four picks in that round. Minnesota finished with 10 picks, its most since 2000.
The Vikings' approach to this draft served as a clear indication that Spielman and coach Leslie Frazier knew their roster had to get younger and that competition had to be created.