A top QB at No. 22? It happens

Could the Vikings have the opportunity to draft a top-10 quarterback with their 22nd pick? It happens more often than you might think. Viking Update's Tim Yotter takes a look at the recent precedence, the analysis from Scout.com's Chris Steuber and a thought from Vikings VP of player personnel Rick Spielman on drafting a franchise quarterback.

If the Vikings aren't able to land a trade for a franchise quarterback, what is the future of the position?

That's an interesting question that the team has to be pondering in their internal draft discussion. Sage Rosenfels was acquired for a fourth-round draft pick and signed to an extension that will keep him in the Vikings' control for at least another three years.

But even Rosenfels was careful to note when he signed that he is just competing for the starting job and hasn't been given the lead role yet. Even so, this is the first time in his career he's been given that opportunity.

"This is it," Rosenfels said when asked how many times he has entered training camp with a chance to be the starter. "I was hoping to have a chance to compete in Houston and a couple of things happened and they went and got Matt Schaub. He got a huge contract and they gave up two second-rounder for him. That competition was sort of over before it started. This is my first opportunity and I'm from the Midwest. As you guys know, I'm from Iowa and I think people from the Midwest can appreciate hard work. I came into this league as a fourth-round pick out of Iowa State down the road and didn't know what was going on. My physical skills probably weren't up to par, but over eight years I've really worked my tail off to get to this point, to get this opportunity. I'm hoping to make the most of it."

He just might, but there is nothing guaranteed about the team's situation at quarterback. After eight years in the NFL, Rosenfels hasn't been able to grab hold of a starting job yet. After three years with the team, Tarvaris Jackson still has doubters, too.

Which leads to the question of the team's long-term future at the position. Would the Vikings seriously consider selecting a quarterback on the first day of the draft?

"The quarterback is such a unique position and that position is hard unless you're going to be picking in the top 10 every year where you have an opportunity to go get maybe a potential future starter for you," said Rick Spielman, the Vikings vice president of player personnel. "And there's been some success stories with guys in the later rounds. We feel we got a good young quarterback in John David (Booty) last year in the fifth round but anytime you can stockpile that position and add to that depth and create competition I think just makes you that much better."

The Vikings aren't likely to move into the top 10 to draft one of the top two quarterbacks because of the price in draft picks it would cost them. But what if Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez fell to them at No. 22? It may be unlikely, but it certainly wouldn't be unprecedented.

It was only 2007 when fans were caught up in the predraft hype on Brady Quinn and thought that Cleveland might selection him No. 3 overall. Instead, the Browns went with offensive tackle Joe Thomas and still netted Quinn by trading up later in the first round. Quinn went with the 22nd pick, right where the Vikings are this year.

Two years prior to that, most in the media were speculating whether Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers should be the first quarterback taken in the top 10. Smith went to the 49ers first overall and has since lost his starting job to former Viking Shaun Hill, an undrafted free agent when he entered the league. Rodgers went to the Green Bay Packers … with the 24th pick.

The current debate among the top two picks isn't about whether Stafford or Sanchez will fall out of the top 10. For most of the time since the season ended, the draft analysts were convinced that Stafford was the top pick going to the Lions – most, but not all. Scout.com's Chris Steuber has had Sanchez ranked higher since January and he's convinced that Sanchez will be the better pro. Over the last week, others are starting to entertain that theory, and many are now beginning to believe that neither of them would be a good pick for the Lions with their first overall selection.

Sanchez completed 65.8 percent of his passes as a senior at USC for 3,207 yards, 34 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, but he only started one year after taking over for Booty. Still, Steuber holds him in high regard.

"Sanchez is an intelligent, physically gifted signal-caller who dissects a defense with his awareness," Steuber writes in his analysis. "He gets good depth on his drops, sets up quickly in the pocket and has a smooth delivery in which he releases a soft, catchable ball. He completes intermediate routes with precision and displays great touch on vertical throws. He plays with a swagger and possesses the "it" factor it takes to succeed. He's a tough competitor who's played through injuries, but his lack of experience (16 career starts) is a cause of concern."

Stafford started three years for the Bulldogs, making him the leader by a wide margin in experience. Last year, Stafford threw for 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, along with a school-record 3,459 passing yards for Georgia. Both Stafford and Sanchez are juniors, but despite having more experience, Steuber call's Stafford's decision-making into question.

"Stafford is an athletic signal-caller who demonstrates the leadership qualities it takes to be an elite player. He has great awareness, and when he feels a rush from the weak side, he has the mobility to make a play on the run," Steuber writes. "He goes through his progressions nicely and locates the open receiver. He has a strong arm and a great sense of timing; he gives his receivers a chance to make a play. He has questionable decision-making and forces throws into coverage. He may have reached his potential; not much upside."

Interestingly, the Vikings were scheduled to meet with Sanchez during the NFL Scouting Combine, he said, and the team had multiple representatives at Stafford's Georgia pro day.

At this point, Stafford and Sanchez are each projected to be selected in the first 15 picks, but it wouldn't be unprecedented for one of them to fall to 22nd or lower. You need only look at two of the past four drafts to see that happens more often than some might recall. If it would happen again in 2009, it could create a very interesting Vikings decision.


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