Is Cutler Worth a Big Trade?
Q: Do you think the Vikings will trade up for a blue-chip quarterback?
A: They have the ammunition now, with five picks (17, 48, 51, 83 and 95 overall) in the first three rounds. According to the draft trade value chart that teams use on draft day, those picks equal 2,105 points, enough to bring them up to at least the No. 4 spot overall. They could also package a current player to get them just about as high as they would need to take the guy they covet, which I believe would be Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler.
Q: Is Cutler really that good?
A: Not all scouts agree on this, but for the West Coast Offense and all the characteristics that Brad Childress has indicated he's looking for in a franchise quarterback, Jay Cutler fits the bill. First, he has all the physical tools – nice size, a quick setup and release, an exceptional arm and good overall athleticism. He can make all the throws. He also fits the mold of being that "flat line" guy Childress described in terms of mental makeup. There have been a lot of comparisons to Brett Favre with Cutler, and he possesses that same kind of swagger. I believe Cutler, if he ends up in a healthy situation for a young quarterback, will indeed develop into a bonafide franchise-caliber quarterback within three years. At Vanderbilt, Cutler did not have a very good supporting cast. His pass protection was often sporadic and his receivers were very, very ordinary. I've seen multiple games in which he had a half-dozen balls dropped on him. Cutler would be an ideal fit as a developmental guy coming in behind Brad Johnson where there would be no immediate pressure on him to start.
Q: But is he really worth all those draft picks?
A: If he's the next Brett Favre, he is. But between now and the draft the Vikings will likely gauge the difference between him and the second tier of developmental quarterback prospects.
Q: Who might be trade bait from their current roster?
A: This is purely speculation, but tight end Jim Kleinsasser might be. He's a fine player but not exactly the type of tight end you look for in the WCO. It's also a little interesting that before Kleinsasser hit free agency a couple years back, the Vikings had to move quickly to retain him because of fears that Bill Parcells would pursue him for Dallas. Parcells always liked those big, tough, rugged, strong-blocking tight ends. His offensive coordinator was Sean Payton, who is now the head coach with the Saints, who currently sit in the No. 2 spot overall and are reportedly interested in working their way down after signing Drew Brees.
Q: Who else fits the mold at quarterback if they can't get Cutler?
A: Alabama's Brodie Croyle has a lot of Joe Montana-type qualities in him and looks like a fine developmental candidate for the WCO. He isn't that big (6-2, 205), but he possesses a strong enough arm and might be the most pinpoint accurate passer in this year's draft. He also brings a lot of the intangibles you want in your quarterback in terms of mental capacity, leadership ability, etc. The big question mark with Croyle is durability, as he's had some injury problems, but I have no doubt he will succeed with the right system and supporting cast. If the price for Cutler is too rich, Croyle makes a lot of sense in the second or third round for the Vikings.
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