QB prospects benefit from new NFL thinking

Blake Bortles is the only one of the top three quarterback prospects with prototypical size. Still, he may end up being the last selected among the top three because the NFL is seeing production from smaller quarterbacks.

If the 2014 draft was happening a little less than a decade ago, there would be little question as to who would be the first quarterback coming off the board on draft weekend. It would be Central Florida's Blake Bortles.

Bortles has the size and strength that is closer to prototype quarterback size. Historically, smaller quarterbacks lasted longer on draft day because they were seen as being too short to throw over defenses and were too susceptible to having passes batted down or, worse yet, deflected into the air where they could be intercepted.

Historically, that would be bad news for 6-foot-1 Teddy Bridgewater and 6-0 (if he's wearing multiple pairs of wool socks) Johnny Manziel. But history is being re-written. Drew Brees is 6 feet tall and is viewed as one of the pre-eminent quarterbacks in the league and there is little doubt he has earned his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The success of Russell Wilson in his two seasons as a starter has significantly impacted how quarterbacks that are height-challenged can succeed.

The thought for the last few years is that the SEC has been the minor leagues of the NFL. It might be that, after several years of drafting SEC players in huge numbers at the top of the draft, the NFL is be moving in the direction of taking the best of the college game and incorporating it into the NFL game.

While realists can look at the numbers Wilson puts up on a regular basis and say that he is not an elite quarterback, just as those same critics would claim that not only is Joe Flacco not in the same breath as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, he's not in the second breath.

Yet Wilson and Brees both have rings and, while the other three do as well, it's been awhile for all of them.

The new thought process is that, if height is an issue, coordinators need to design plays to roll the quarterback out and free up throwing lanes. Players like Manziel and Bridgewater have made their bread and butter when on the move, not in the pocket. A team that drafts them will have to be prepared to fit their offense to their skills and not to force-feed their existing offense if it isn't a good fit.

In the end, if the Vikings are to get one of the Big Three quarterbacks in the draft, the odds are Bortles will be the last one available and, from old-school scouting measurable projections, would be the best candidate for the team and the offense it is expected to run.

Ten years ago, Bortles might have been the top QB off the board and no one would have questioned it. He still might be. But, as we stand right now, he looks to be No. 3. The times, they are a changin'.


  • Those living in the area surrounding the Metrodome that were sleeping at 7:30 a.m. Sunday got a rude awaking. Demolition of the Metrodome was halted Feb. 17 after a section of the ring beam around the core of the dome structure came down. After consultation with demotion and structural expects, the ring beam and the corners of the Metrodome structure were brought down Sunday morning with a controlled explosion that included 84 strategically placed charges set on 24 columns with the upper concourse of the Metrodome. It only took 10 seconds for it to come down. By all accounts, it was a big bang.

  • The Seattle Seahawks may find themselves losing not just one, but two defensive ends. Michael Bennett is expected to get some big offers in free agency, but word out of Seattle is that fellow DE Red Bryant is going to be released, because he carries an $8.5 million salary and, by cutting him, Seattle can gain about $5 million in cap space. As the defending champs with a young team, veterans may be more willing to take a discount for a chance at another ring. The Bryant move opens up more room to make those types of signings.

  • A week into the two-week period in which teams can slap franchise tags on players, there haven't been any made yet. Expect that to change, but maybe not for another couple of days.

  • Matt Cassel's name has been linked to the expectation of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their QB job search once free agency opens. From the outside perspective looking in, unless Lovie Smith has no interest in youngster Mike Glennon, Cassel would likely have a better chance of winning a starting job with the Vikings than the Bucs.

    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.

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