The Vikings may or may not be out of the Jay Cutler trade rumors, but they aren't completely devoid of looking for a future solution at quarterback. To that end, the team is scheduled to bring in Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman for a visit next week, presumably over the April 8-9 mass predraft visits, according to a league source. Those are the dates they are expected to host close to 30 prospects at Winter Park.
Freeman has engendered a variety of valuations from draft analysts, some feeling he is raw and that his accuracy problems could have him falling into the second round or beyond. Others see his big arm and other athletic qualities and believe he is a first-round value worth developing.
"Freeman is a strong, athletic signal-caller who has the physical attributes and upside to be a star. He has great size and a strong arm," writes Scout.com's Chris Steuber, who projects Freeman as a second-round pick. "He can make all the throws, but has to work on his accuracy. He has good pocket awareness and finds the open receiver, but he has to improve his footwork and lacks straight-line speed. He's more of a project than a finished product and will be drafted solely on his upside."
During his final two seasons at Kansas State, Freeman completed 61.2 percent of his passes. Over the course of his three-year career, he completed 59 percent of his passes, which broke the school record previously held by former Viking Chad May, who never did play an NFL game.
Freeman has heard the knock on his accuracy and said that is one of the reasons he wanted to throw at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.
"I've got nothing to hide. Some people would argue against it, but I feel that throwing is one of my strengths and I want to show that," Freeman said at the combine. "Some people said to throw and others said ‘Don't throw.' Ultimately, it was my decision."
Freeman proved to not only be the biggest quarterback at the combine at 6-5¾ and 248 pounds, but also had the longest broad jump, beating second-place finisher Pat White by two inches. Freeman said NFL coaches and scouts like his physical attributes.
"I think they like the size and that I'm a big quarterback but also that I have some mobility to my game and athleticism," he said. "A lot of people assume that a 6-6 guy is going to be a big ol' lumbering
type guy, but I have a lot of athletic ability and ability to throw the ball."
Freeman ran for 404 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2008, and had 20 rushing touchdowns in his college career, which was fourth in the history K-State quarterbacks.
But, more than running for touchdowns, Freeman is known for his arm strength and would like to think that he has professional ability to move in the pocket, comparing himself to the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger "for the size and ability to move around the pocket and extend the play. And also Donovan McNabb, just the way he harnesses his athletic ability and is still able to sit in the pocket and be a pocket passer."
That elusiveness helped Freeman blow past the previous Kansas State record of 6,208 career passing yards (previously held by Lynn Dickey) and move the bar way up, to 8,078 yards. He also finished with 179 more completions than Dickey, as Freeman had 680. Freeman also holds the Wildcats' record with 44 touchdown passes.
Current Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris got a chance to witness Freeman's skills first-hand when Morris was on the defensive staff at Kansas State.
"I know Josh Freeman really well. I was with him for a year. Absolute specimen to look at – physical, tall, big arm, deceptively quick. He's got that Ben Roethlisberger effect where he's hard to tackle once you get back there," Morris said at the NFL owners meetings last week. "He's been coached by some pretty good guys ... his dad's been working with him. I don't know if he's a Daunte Culpepper type because Culpepper was a big-armed thrower down the field. This kid has a lot of touch as well. He can drop a flare screen or a check-down just as well as he can drop a 27-yard comeback. He can throw on the move and he throws across his body impressively."
Freeman listed the qualities that he thinks separate him from the other quarterback prospects in the draft, including the ones who are expected to be drafted ahead of him, USC's Mark Sanchez and Georgia's Matthew Stafford.
"Mark and Matt are both great quarterbacks and the rest of them all had great careers," Freeman said, "but I feel I bring the complete package in terms of arm strength, leadership and the ability to extend the play and make something happen and overall presence on the field."
See Freeman in action:
First-day QB among predraft visitors
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