Cosell evaluates other top QB options

It's easier to understand why the Vikings are working a trade for QB Sage Rosenfels rather than spending more on other bigger-named players after hearing an evaluation on them from Greg Cosell of NFL Films. Leave it to the guy who watches the coaches tape to give an honest opinion of the potential pitfalls with Derek Anderson and Matt Cassel.

The Vikings appear to have created some competition for Tarvaris Jackson in the starter's role by working a trade for Houston's Sage Rosenfels.

There were other names as trade possibilities, but after discussing their skills with Greg Cosell of NFL Films, it's easier to see why the Vikings went the Rosenfels route instead of spending bigger money and higher draft picks to pry either Derek Anderson away from the Cleveland Browns or Matt Cassel away from the New England Patriots.

Each of those two more bandied-about names have their selling points, but Cosell, a senior producer at NFL Films who spends hours and hours each week watching coaches tape, started with Cassel and why he might have struggled to fit into the Vikings' offense.

"You've really got to understand what he is. He had a stretch, beginning with that Jets game on a Thursday night when they lost, over the next six games, he played his best football. Eighty-eight percent of his pass attempts came out of the shotgun. That's a really high number. He's not as good under center," Cosell said of Cassel. "They ran an offense in which they had three wide receivers, and they had Wes Welker, who is as good as there is in getting open in that short intermediate area between the hashes. (Randy) Moss still served a function. They did have a back and a tight end, so it wasn't a pure spread, but the ball came out quick; he was removed from the bodies so he didn't really make a lot of throws when there were people around him.

After starting no games in his first three seasons in the NFL, Cassel took over for an injured Tom Brady in 2009 and started every game for the Patriots. He finished with 21 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 3,693 yards and an 89.4 rating.

The Patriots put the franchise tag on Cassel, which means the Vikings likely would have had to spend at least one first-round pick to trade for him and then probably offer him a contract that averaged $10 million a year. Is he worth that to the Vikings?

"You have to understand what he is. If you're going to sign him and then try to put him in a ‘conventional offense' under center, run play-action, all that stuff, he's not as effective, so you've got to know that," Cosell said. "You can't ask him to play to his limitations. You have to ask him to play to his strengths. Now, in Minnesota, their offense works through Adrian Peterson."

The Cleveland option of Anderson has been the talk among Vikings fans since the Browns drafted Brady Quinn. Like Cassel, Anderson spent the first three seasons of his career with few (three) starts.

Then came his breakout season in 2007, when he threw for 3,787 yards, 29 touchdowns and 19 interceptions for an 82.5 passer rating in 15 starts. Last year, Anderson started nine games and wasn't nearly as effective, throwing for 1,615 yards, nine touchdowns and eight interceptions with a passer rating that dipped to 66.5.

"Derek Anderson is a guy that has physical tools. The problem with Anderson is he often times plays the game in slow motion. He doesn't seem to get back from center quickly enough. His feet seem slow to me at times, and I don't mean slow running around because that's irrelevant," Cossel said. "But he just doesn't seem as if he processes information quickly, doesn't seem as if his body moves quickly. I think he struggles to throw the ball when there are bodies around him, which is really a problem if you're a drop-back quarterback. I think he tends to lose his downfield focus when there are people around him, which is really problematic.

"To me, Anderson is a guy, because he does have a big enough arm and a good arm, that someone will always look at him and say, ‘Maybe we can rehabilitate him.' But, again, if you're bringing him in as competition, fine. I think if you're bringing him in and he's your guy, I think you've got to temper that."

While the Vikings could still pursue another quarterbacks this offseason for additional competition in reserve, it appears they have their starting competition in the fold with Jackson and Rosenfels. And Cossel's analysis of some of the other possibilities leads to the conclusion that the team could have spent a lot more money on other players that would have carried just as much uncertainty.


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