As it became apparent that the Vikings were signing veteran Gus Frerotte to back up Tarvaris Jackson, Vikings coach Brad Childress said last week at the owners meeting that Frerotte's addition likely took the Vikings out of the running to draft a quarterback in the early rounds.
"We bring a guy in in that situation, it would be difficult to look at quarterback very high," Childress said. "I'm always in the mode of looking to develop a guy who's a younger guy – maybe knock off the edges of a younger guy, a la Tyler Thigpen, who got stolen from us last year. Just a guy that you can bring up and in two, three or four years you might have something."
That could be the thinking behind a private workout the Vikings scheduled with University of Miami quarterback Kyle Wright. Wright, at 6-foot-3½ and 218 pounds, is expected to be a late-round pick during the April 26-27 NFL draft or even an undrafted free-agent signee following the draft. He was named to the all-sleeper team picked by Scout.com draft analyst Chris Steuber.
"Wright has a great frame and solid tools that make him an intriguing QB. He has a strong arm and above-average accuracy. He has a quick release and locates his receiver quickly. He's mobile in the pocket and avoids pressure. He demonstrates good leadership qualities and is a high-character guy in the locker room," Steuber listed as Wright's strength's in his evaluation of the senior signal-caller.
But Steuber also added Wright's weaknesses. "He's a talented player, but he's extremely inconsistent. He has to read defenses better and work on his decision-making. He has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long and force throws. He doesn't feel pressure well and takes too many sacks."
Wright was one of the nation's most sought-after recruits coming out of high school and lived up to the expectations in his first season as a starter, his sophomore year. He threw for 2,403 yards, 18 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. But Miami's offense struggled in 2006 and Wright's totals dropped to 1,655 yards passing, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions, and he suffered a season-ending thumb injury that caused him to miss the final four games of that campaign.
Last year, Wright had to earn his way back into the starting lineup after Kirby Freeman began the season as the starter. Wright's statistics didn't look much better, as he threw for 1,747 yards, 12 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
Despite his struggles the last two years at Miami, Wright was invited to be a "throwing quarterback" at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He joked in an NFL.com diary about his Combine experience that he had never thrown so many interception when it came to throwing passes on a day that defensive backs were featured. But he appreciated the experience to meet NFL coaches and improve his chances to get drafted, despite the challenges associated with throwing to unfamiliar players at the Combine.
"With quarterbacks and wide receivers, it's all about timing and getting on the same page. It is pretty difficult working with receivers you don't know," he wrote in his diary. "You don't know how quickly they make their cuts or how fast they are. That being said, I thought we threw pretty well."
A reporter who witnessed one of Wright's throwing sessions at the Combine evaluated his performance like this: "Wide on a number of the short to intermediate throws … When his mechanics are good, he makes a few good throws but he then goes back to his normal setup and his passes flutter … Lacked great touch on his deeper routes … He has some tools … Looks to have the size, but his arm strength was up-and-down today as was his overall accuracy."
Wright also had a decent pro day, and those two offseason experiences likely put him back in the conversation as a potential draft pick. Others still have their reservations about him.
"Big, good-looking athlete who has been given every opportunity to succeed, but has never done it over the long haul," wrote Tom Marino, a former long-time NFL scout now evaluating players for Scout.com. "Has a strong arm and tools you look for, but is not an accurate passer nor did he make consistently good throwing decisions. Didn't think he consistently threw the football on time, and in all games viewed really worked the receivers. I have to believe that the pro game is going to be just too fast for this player."
The Vikings' private workout with Wright, just like they worked out Tarvaris Jackson before the 2006 NFL Draft, may help them answer that question for themselves.
Vikings Work Out Quarterback
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