Quarterback question foremost for Vikings

The Vikings will have options throughout the draft to try and find a developmental quarterback for the future. The opinions on those options vary greatly, whether it's a first-round reach or one of the mid-round prospects they have visited with or worked out. Here the names being floated and the varying opinions from draft analysts, a former NFL QB coach and the Vikings' draft decision-makers.

The Vikings have learned over the past eight months the interest a quarterback can generate.

It wasn't long ago that the team needed to call on corporate sponsors to buy up remaining tickets to avoid local television blackouts of games. Then they hired the most expensive marketing consultant/quarterback money could buy when Brett Favre signed on Aug. 18 for two years and $25 million.

But at 40 years old and no guarantee how many more years – if any – Favre will remain in the league, the talk of the Vikings drafting a quarterback in the early rounds is at fever levels.

The Vikings may have more immediate needs, but there is no question that quarterback is the talker of the draft, and nobody generates talk like Florida's Tim Tebow. It's also obvious that opinions on Tebow are wide-ranging and quickly changing.

"I think Tim has got to develop into a starting quarterback to be worthy of being a second-round draft choice," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said of Tebow a couple weeks ago. "I don't think he can be, others do, we'll see. I think he can be a very successful H-back and I think that will ultimately be where he settles in at the pro level. I think he has the hand-eye coordination, the toughness, the speed in a straight line. He's turned out to be faster than a lot of people thought. We know how competitive he is and I think in that role he can be like Frank Wycheck was. Others think he can be a quarterback and I'll root for Tim Tebow to prove me wrong on that one. I do think second round, and I do think New England, Buffalo, teams I've heard that could be destinations for him. Cleveland is going to be looking for a quarterback in round two … so there's a lot of different opportunities."

But now several people see the Vikings drafting Tebow at No. 30. Most of the hype on Tebow to the Vikings started when it went public that head coach Brad Childress was part of a private workout with Tebow and the Vikings.

The reality, however, is that the Vikings have shown interest in several quarterback prospects in the draft. They worked out Cincinnati's Tony Pike and had either a workout or visit with Fordham's John Skelton. But those two are considered to have value in the third to fifth rounds. The Vikings also brought R.J. Archer of Williams & Mary in as part of their predraft visits, but he could go undrafted.

The Vikings also had a scout and offensive coordinator attend the pro day for Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen.

"We sent Bev over to see Jimmy Clausen and the great thing is that we have all the workout tapes right there," Childress said when asked how many QB prospects he's seen in person this offseason. "Typically either a scout brings them back or a coach brings them back or we pay for them to be sent back and have them within a day or two."

"We talk to a lot of the guys (at the NFL Scouting Combine) in Indianapolis, but we got to spend a little extra time with Tim at the coaches clinic. Got a chance to visit with him after that. Most of Friday night."

And no one generates interest like Tebow.

"We all know what a great year Brett Favre had," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said. "That doesn't answer their ultimate question at the quarterback position – whether he's back for one-year, two years or no years, they'll still have a quarterback hole and they've got a Super Bowl roster. At No. 30, the question they have to ask is, 'Is Tim Tebow a starting quarterback in one to two years?' If you answer that question, 'Yes,' I think you have to pull the trigger at 30.''

One former NFL quarterback coach doesn't believe Tebow is even close to worthy of a first-round pick.

"As I've watched him, I haven't seen a pure enough passer to feel real good about the guy," the coach told Scout.com's Ed Thompson. "I love all the intangibles, but he doesn't throw great balls. The ball flutters on him a lot, he sails it, kind of sprays it at times. The NFL is a passing league, and you have to be able to convert on third down by throwing the football. And if you're not accurate from Point A to Point B, it's going to be difficult to succeed. As good of a guy and athlete that he is, as good as his intangibles are, he still has to be able to throw the ball to move the chains, and I don't know if he can do it consistently enough to be a full-time quarterback in the NFL. Maybe he can develop his consistency over time, but he's a project."

Tebow is trying to change his mechanics and convince NFL scouts and coaches that he can be an effective NFL passer. Few people have doubts about his worth ethic or attitude.

"Just aces from all those standpoints. Fun to be around, articulate, smart, competitive," Childress said.

Some analysts believe a different kind of attitude could change the value of Jimmy Clausen, who is a considered a top-15 pick when it comes to talent. As recently as this morning, long-time NFL mock draftian Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News had Clausen slipping to the Vikings at No. 30.

Another possibility is Texas' Colt McCoy, but he is considered more of a second-round value.

"With time, I think he's going to be better than Jimmy – I think he's got a bigger upside," the former NFL QB coach told Scout.com. "He's got the good body type and he's athletic. Over the past year, he's gotten better balance in the pocket, a better feel for staying in the pocket and feeling the rush, sliding and climbing when he needs to. He understands where to go with the ball based on coverage. Out of the four, he made the most improvement when you compare the last two seasons. He's a great kid and is very humble even though he's coming out of a big-time program--and he's eager to learn."

No matter what, the Vikings will have options at the position in each of the first five rounds.

"It's a decent class of quarterbacks. There's some good players at the top," said Scott Studwell, the Vikings director of college scouting. "A lot of the quarterbacks will make teams, but we're in kind of a unique situation with our quarterback situation. We've got two experienced quarterbacks on our roster. We don't know what's going to happen with Brett yet. If there's a guy there that we covet and we think he's going to be a potential starter or a good backup for us, then we'll certainly have to talk about taking them." Childress admits that "in a perfect world" the Vikings would like to have a solid starter there for the next eight to 10 years.

"You're always looking to see whether it's somebody on your roster or somebody that you're going to obtain in the future – whether the future is a couple days from now or a couple weeks from now or a couple years from year. You're always wanting to have that person," Childress said.

"… Would I like to have a long-term solution? I think we all would. But by the same token, you don't want to force it and grab for something that's not there."

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