"I thought last year's group (of quarterbacks) got rushed into it or got pushed up entirely too high," Billick said. "I like what I see in Christian Ponder. I don't know right now if I'd say he was worth the 12th pick. Jake Locker at No. 8. Blaine Gabbert, we have some questions at 10. I think that whole group would have been better served, like an Andy Dalton, to be early in the second round. That was probably where they belonged.
"It doesn't mean you can't come out of it. Andy Dalton obviously played brilliantly, particularly for a rookie. This group, once we get past those top two, there will be somebody – whether it's (Ryan) Tannehill or the like – that gets pulled up into the first round, probably belong in the second round in terms of what they've done, what their history is. They're going to be pulled up due to need as opposed to this guy is worth the 20th, 25th, 28th pick."
It wasn't just rookie quarterbacks that were broached with Billick. He also gave his opinion – obviously from a former coach's perspective – on the hottest veteran talk of the NFL Scouting Combine. Will Peyton Manning find a new home, and who will take a chance on him?
Billick admitted there will be pressure on the coach that brings Manning in.
"When you bring him in, if it doesn't work, it's not Peyton's fault. There's going to be somebody's butt in somebody's brief case at the end of the day and it's not going to be Peyton's, OK, because that guy's got a Super Bowl, he's walking into the Hall of Fame. So yeah, there is a little bit of pressure that it's not going to be Peyton's fault if it doesn't work."
"Who makes more? OK. At the end of the day that's who's in charge. And when you bring in a Peyton Manning, why would you bring him in and not do what he does best? That's what a good coach will do. But that has to be an organizational decision.
"Mike's going to do a great job. Mike has a complete view of the game," Billick said. "You've got to remember: Typically it's the offensive line coach, what kind of play caller will he be? Remember, he was a head coach. Mike has a bigger view of the game and he has a certain mentality. That's why in my opinion Lovie (Smith) made him the offensive coordinator – because he wants that mentality. They're going to run the ball. They're going to be physical. There's going to be an aspect of the game. They need some things. They need an outside receiver to give Jay Cutler.
"… That toughness that Mike brings to it, it's just what Lovie Smith wants to do in Chicago so I think Mike's going to do a great job."
"We had a young man at the combine and we had our 60 interviews and it was late in the process and you're tired. And we have the information on these guys and I'm sitting with the kid and looking at his rap sheet and nothing really serious, but enough stuff to know this guy's (an issue)," Billick said. "So I said, ‘You're tired. I'm tired. Let's cut to the chase. Are you a thug or are you stupid? Which is it?' He said, ‘Are those my only options?' I said, ‘Well you're not stupid, OK.' I will tell you this kid went on and played 10 years in the NFL and never had an issue."
BACK TO BLUE?
Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe could find himself back on the open market as a player scheduled to be a free agent on March 13. His former team, the New York Giants, could be in need of a tight end after Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard both tore anterior cruciate ligaments in the Super Bowl.
"Right now, we only have a couple of tight ends that are healthy, so that's definitely a concern for us," Giants general manager Jerry Reese said at the combine. "We have the two guys who had ACL surgeries. We have Bear Pascoe who's healthy and we have a young practice squad kid that we like, Christian Hopkins. That's a concern for us. We'll address it somehow, with the draft or free agency, but we'll definitely look to address that and hopefully those guys (Ballard and Beckum) will be back at some point with the ACLs."
The 2012 draft is consistently being panned as weak at tight end.
Atlanta's Curtis Lofton is one of the top free-agent inside linebackers and could end up on the open market. If the Vikings move on from E.J. Henderson, could Lofton be a consideration?
"In his first year, he was a two-down linebacker and did not play in our sub-package. The last three years, he's been a very important cog in our defense on all three downs," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "He has definitely been the leader of our defense and signal-caller. He's done a very nice job.
"Curtis is a very active middle linebacker in terms of his ability to play both the run and the pass. He's one of the leading tacklers. He's really developed into a top-level linebacker."
Lofton was credited with 147 tackles last year and has 352 over his four-year career.
Smith also talked about one of the free agents he acquired last year – former Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards, who had 3.5 sacks last year, the lowest since his rookie season in 2006.
"Ray Edwards, I thought, did a very good job for us [against] the run," Smith said. "There was a stretch in the season that he had an issue with his knee. He had a procedure done with his knee. We're expecting him to be back at full health."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.