Positional Analysis: Quarterbacks

While the Vikings aren't forced to make an early selection in search of a quarterback, other teams ahead of the Vikings' seventh overall pick will be critical to them getting their man. We take an in-depth look at the top nine draftable quarterbacks and when they might be selected.

Vikings' Quarterbacks — Daunte Culpepper, Brad Johnson, Shaun Hill, Jason Fife.

Vikings' Needs — The quarterback position isn't a front-burner priority for the Vikings on draft weekend, but it could be critical to the Vikings' overall draft plan. As it currently stands, the team fully expects two quarterbacks to be gone in the first six selections, which, in essence, gives the Vikings the fifth pick in the draft for potential players they're looking for.

Class of 2005 — With the premium placed on quarterback, it is very likely that two of the top three picks in the draft will be QBs — the biggest question left unanswered is which one will go first. This isn't the strongest QB class in recent memory, but there are some intriguing prospects that will go off the board in the first day, with a half-dozen or more likely to be competing for a starting job within the next two or three years.


Alex Smith, Utah, 6-4, 217 —
Third-year junior … Two-year starter … Second-team All-Mountain West as a junior and first-team as a senior … Second-team All-America as a senior … Finalist for almost every award he was eligible for — Heisman, O'Brien, Walter Camp, etc … NCAA Academic All-American of the Year in 2004 … In two years as a starter, he completed 389 of 587 passes (66.3 percent) for 5,203 yards, 47 touchdowns and just eight interceptions … In 2004, he threw for 2,952 yards with 32 TDs and four interceptions, as well as rushing for 774 yards and 10 more TDs … Had a QB rating of 125.5 as a senior … Very good mechanics … Very intelligent and reads defenses well enough to call a lot of audibles … Smart player who picks up blitz coverage extremely well … No QB is recent memory has been more of a winner — in four years as a starting QB in high school and at Utah he had a record of 46-2 … Will be just 20 on draft day … Doesn't have top NFL-prototype arm strength … Some will question his lack of quality opponents and a quarterback-friendly offense that took most snaps from the shotgun … Ran a 4.71 40 at the Combine with a 32-inch vertical jump, a 9-5 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 40.

PROJECTION: His knowledge of the game and commitment to getting better have drawn more comparisons to Peyton Manning than Eli Manning has. He is the complete package and wowed scouts at his Pro Day workout, which some in attendance say was the best individual workout since Troy Aikman in 1989. He should go in the first three picks — either to the 49ers or Browns — and has a very good shot at being the No. 1 choice when San Francisco is on the clock.

Aaron Rodgers, California, 6-2, 223 — Third-year junior … Two-year starter who took off after four games in 2003 … Transferred to Cal after playing a year at Butte (Calif.) College and earning a Junior College All-American nod … In two years, he completed 424 of 665 passes for 5,469 yards with 43 TDs and 13 interceptions … Set a school record for interception percentage as a junior — five picks in 349 attempts … First-team All-Pac 10 in 2004 in which he tied an NCAA record with 23 straight completions … Fundamentally sound and looks the part of a prototype NFL QB from the mechanics standpoint … Very strong arm and has decent touch on dropping in deep passes … Will take a big hit to deliver a pass at the right time … Adept at selling play action and pump fakes … Has great football intelligence … Some believe he comes from a gimmick offense at Cal that made Kyle Boller look very good (until he got to the NFL) … Most of his passes were short timing routes that never showcased his deep ability … Is a couple inches shorter than the ideal NFL prototype … Had knee surgery after 2003 season … Isn't mobile — he averaged 3.6 yards a rush in college … Ran a 4.71 40 at the Combine with a 34-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 9-2 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 35.

PROJECTION: Some believe he is the better pro prospect than Smith and, if he has good meetings with the 49ers, he could go No. 1. If he makes it to No. 3, Cleveland should take him. If they don't, look for the phones to start ringing with teams like Dallas, Arizona or Green Bay looking to move up.


Jason Campbell, Auburn, 6-5, 227 —
Fifth-year senior … Two-year full-time starter who started his first game as a freshman and almost half of his games his first two years … Had to play with four different offensive coordinators in his five years at AU … Offensive Player of the Year in the SEC in 2004 … Blossomed as a senior, completing 188 of 270 passes (69.6 percent) for 2,200 yards with 20 TDs and 7 INTs … Excellent size and has large hands and a strong arm … Quick to get into position to throw … Didn't miss any time with injuries … Very solid when on the move and throwing on the run … Has decent speed, but his numbers didn't necessarily bear that out … Has a Randall Cunningham release that takes a long time — something that usually lets NFL safeties intercept passes … Some believe he was a one-year wonder who benefited more from having top picks Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams to take the heat off of him … He is an erratic passer who will throw some awful looking passes … Ran a 4.69 40 at the Combine with a 38-inch vertical jump and a Wonderlic score of 28.

PROJECTION: He clearly improved in 2004, but many will look at the two-headed beast at running back for Auburn and say he coat-tailed in on the fun. If either the 49ers or Browns pass on QB in the first round, one of them will jump on him in the second round. If not, he will still likely go somewhere in the second round to a team with an aging veteran.

Charlie Frye, Akron, 6-4, 225 — Fifth-year senior … Four-year starter who finished his career completing 913 of 1,436 passes for 11,049 yards, 64 TDs and 32 INTs … Had a much better statistical season as a junior — as a senior he threw for 900 fewer yards, rushed for 200 fewer yards and had nine fewer TDs … Finished his career with 54 career passing records … A team player who returned for his senior year despite his coaching staff being fired following the 2003 season … Is the perfect size for an NFL QB and has the arm strength to throw the deep ball with accuracy … Will look down the barrel of a blitz and take shots to deliver passes … Durability may factor in because he has already played through a lot of pain, enduring a broken throwing thumb, a hip pointer, a broken right pinky and a mild shoulder separation … A student of the game who spends a lot of time on film study instead of getting by with natural ability … Doesn't have the best zip on his passes and some sail on him … Doesn't have great lower body strength to pull away and avoid sacks … Has small hands (sounds familiar?) and some teams game-plan to strip the ball away from him … Ran a 4.79 40 at the Combine with a 33-inch vertical jump, a 9-5 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 38.

PROJECTION: Frye doesn't have the great intangibles some the other QBs in this class do, but the MAC has a good recent track record of kicking out NFL quarterbacks — Chad Pennington, Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich. He likely won't match their quick ascent, but will likely be off the board late in the second or, more likely, the third round.

Kyle Orton, Purdue, 6-4, 233 — Fourth-year senior … Three-year starter who also started three games as a true freshman … Finished his career completing 748 of 1,262 passes for 8,918 yards with 60 touchdowns and 24 interceptions … His completion percentage, yardage and touchdowns went up each year year, while his INT numbers went down each year … Blew up in 2004, throwing for 3,090 yards with 31 TDs and just 5 INTs … First-team All-Big Ten in 2004 … Excellent size and has a strong arm … Isn't shy about putting a ball into limited space — and usually makes the throw … No QB at the Combine threw passes with a tighter rotation or more zip … Another of in growing list of QBs who played in a shotgun system designed for quick reads … Had problems at the Senior Bowl when asked to be a conventional drop-back passer … Has a funky three-quarters release that his first QB coach will likely try to change or at least alter … Not much of a threat to run and doesn't throw nearly as well on the move … Had two hip injuries last year that dropped the Boilermakers out of the Big Ten title chase when his production dipped in key games … Doesn't keep himself in top condition, which showed at the Combine, where he ran a 5.08 40 with a 26-1/2 inch vertical jump and a Wonderlic score of 27.

PROJECTION: A quarterback who was ideal for what Purdue runs on offense, he has drawn comparisons to Tim Couch — who thrived in Kentucky's system but nobody else's. He dominated games last year and will likely get a look in the third round from a team looking to position themselves for a couple years out.

Adrian McPherson, Florida State, 6-3, 218 — Former Florida State player who started just four games in two years at FSU … Last played in 2002 and was kicked off the team prior to their New Year's Day bowl appearance … Was thrown off for being arrested and charged with felonies and misdemeanors for stealing one check for $3,500 and writing a handful of worthless checks in a separate incident … Transferred to Division I-AA Murray State, but never played a game for the Racers … Some speculated his check scams were the result of a gambling problem — somewhat confirmed by his gambling arrest in 2003 … Pleaded no contest to the check charges and was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years probation … Played for the Indianapolis Firebirds of the Arena Football League last year and completed 237 of 397 passes for 3,297 yards with 61 touchdowns and just five interceptions — rushing for 19 more TDs to give him a one-season total of 80 TDs … Played under Steve DeBerg in the Arena League and he has raved to those who will listen about him … Very strong arm … Good runner when he tucks the ball down and takes off … Some say he is too run-happy and will take off before plays can develop … Doesn't have great lower-body strength … Isn't a student of the game … Struggles to pick up new wrinkles defenses throw at him … Ran a 4.71 40 at the Combine, did an impressive 22 reps with 225 pounds and had a 34-1/2 vertical jump, a 10-8 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 26.

PROJECTION: If not for his scandal at FSU, he would probably be viewed as a top prospect. Unlike a player like Randy Moss, he isn't so skilled that he can get by with a checkered past. He should be a third-round prospect, but it wouldn't surprise anyone if he's still on the board at the start of Day TWO.


Andrew Walter, Arizona State, 6-6, 233 —
Fifth-year senior … Three-year starter … In his three seasons as a starter, he threw for 10,071 yards with 82 touchdowns and 34 interceptions … Broke the 30-year-old school record for passing yards in a season held by former Cowboy Danny White — and topped that total in each of his three years as a starter … Broke John Elway's Pac 10 career record for touchdowns … Very strong arm … Very tall at 6-6 and has good upper- and lower-body strength … Doesn't lose accuracy when on the move … A tough guy who won't shy away from holding onto the ball and getting drilled to deliver a deep ball … Has no mobility and is never a threat to run — he averaged just 1.7 yards a rush for his career and never scored a rushing touchdown … Has a sidearm delivery that will likely need to be modified … His biggest drawback was that he suffered a third-degree separation of his throwing shoulder last November, had surgery and missed out on the post-season all-star games and the physical aspects of the Combine … May not be fully healed from his surgery until this summer … His only Combine work was running a 4.91 40 and scoring 31 on the Wonderlic test.

PROJECTION: He's a veteran player who faced some very good competition in his career, but it is hard to imagine a team risking a high pick on a QB who couldn't work out for anybody and has a freshly repaired throwing shoulder. As a result, he could be a steal in the fourth round for a team that doesn't have a lot of glaring needs and is willing to take a chance on potential greatness. Fourth-rounders bring much less risk than Day One picks, but, if he can recover, he could be somebody to watch.

David Greene, Georgia, 6-3, 226 — Fifth-year senior … Left-handed … Four-year starter who finished his career as the SEC's all-time leader passer — completing 849 of 1,440 passes for 11,528 yards, 72 touchdowns and 32 interceptions … Set conference records for throwing 214 passes without an interception and had the best pass-to-INT ratio in SEC history — just one pick for every 45 passes thrown … Broke Peyton Manning's SEC record for most wins as a starter with 42 … Comfortable in the pocket and rarely throws dangerous passes into coverage...Has a quick release when he pulls the trigger … A tough guy who doesn't get rattled when he takes a big hit … Tends to float a lot of passes that, if thrown in the NFL, will be intercepted … Streaky from one game to next and sometimes even one series to the next … Doesn't have much speed and has never been much of a threat to pick up good yards scrambling when a play breaks down … Isn't as physical as the prototype QB scouts look for … Ran a 4.78 40 at the Combine with a 31-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 9-7 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of just 19 — one of the lowest scores for a QB at the Combine.

PROJECTION: He has some upside with his experience and willingness to work hard to get better. But his problems with the deep pass make him similar to Brad Johnson when he came out of college. If he hooks on with a West Coast Offense predicated on short, quick passes, he has a chance to excel. But if he doesn't find the right system, he could be a trivia answer in a few years. Looks to be a Day Two prospect a coach can sell to the media.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Harvard, 6-2, 228 — Fourth-year senior … Only a one-year full-time starter in which he completed 158 of 278 passes for 1,986 yards with 13 TDs and six INTs … A very good rusher who ran for more than 500 yards in each of the last three years and scored 16 rushing TDs in that span … First-team All-Ivy League last year when he led Harvard to an 11-0 record … Has decent arm strength, but has excellent touch on his passes … Has very good footwork and can move away from the rush in the pocket or take off and run … Isn't as tall as scouts want and doesn't have the accuracy or velocity on deep passes, especially to the sidelines … Was a pure shotgun QB, so there will be a significant learning curve going to the NFL … Has shown toughness playing through injuries, but gets dinged up a lot … Ran a 4.86 40 at the Combine to go with a 30-1/2 inch vertical jump, a 8-9 broad jump and a Wonderlic score of 38.

PROJECTION: He is a project with intangibles like intelligence and toughness, but his lack of practical experience and middle-of-the-road God-given skills will likely drop him into the second day of the draft — and maybe even have a long wait then.

Gino Guidugli, Cincinnati, 6-4, 229
Derek Anderson, Oregon State, 6-6, 242
Dan Orlovsky, Connecticut, 6-4, 230
Stefan LeFors, Louisville, 6-0, 208
Timmy Chang, Hawaii, 6-1, 211
Jason White, Oklahoma, 6-2, 223

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