Webb spins from QB to WR

Joe Webb was a versatile star at Alabama-Birmingham and made a name for himself as a scrambling quarterback. But his NFL future may well hinge on his ability to make the transition to wide receiver.

QB or not QB – that is the question.

Alabama-Birmingham's Joe Webb, a sixth-round pick of the Vikings, began his college career at quarterback, only to move to wide receiver in 2007 and back to quarterback in 2008. He put himself in the record books by being the first quarterback in NCAA history to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons. But his NFL future will likely have him returning outside to the wide receiver position if he is going to stick with the Vikings – something Webb is acutely aware of.

"Right now, I'm focusing my attention at receiver," Webb said. "I'm pretty sure they have some other type of plan for me, Wildcat or something like that. But right now, I'm focusing all my attention at wide receiver."

The process began shortly after the end of the 2009 season when advisors told him his best chance of making it in the NFL would be by moving to wide receiver, where his speed and scrambling ability would be more valued. However, he believes his experience at quarterback and reading defensive tendencies will be a significant help in getting him on the field.

"I think that's a big plus, being able to run the ball," Webb said. "With the ball in my hand, being able to make plays and also having some wide receiver success catching balls down the field."

The fact he came to the Vikings was something of a surprise to Webb, who said Minnesota was "the last team on my mind. I didn't think the Vikings would pick me." He was expecting to head to the AFC North, not the NFC North, as the draft began to wind down.

"I talked to Pittsburgh and Baltimore the most," Webb said. "The Ravens were trying to get me there. I guess I'm headed to a new direction now. I'm real blessed to have this opportunity."

Webb had become convinced that, if he wasn't drafted, he would end up with the Ravens. In fact, when the call came in from the Vikings, he had just been given a vote of confidence from the powers that be in Baltimore that he would be heading east to continue his pro career.

"It was real shocking because on one line I was on the phone with the head coach from the Ravens, (John) Harbaugh," Webb said. "We were talking that they were going to take me or pick me up as a free agent. As soon as I got off the phone with him, I received a call from the Vikings. I picked up and there it was."

Both the Ravens and Steelers have a history of drafting college quarterbacks-turned-receivers and had success with them. But the Vikings were the team willing to pull the trigger first and, while Minnesota doesn't have the same kind of history transitioning similar players to the NFL level, Webb said he is prepared to do what is needed to play wherever the staff feels the most comfortable with putting him.

"It's based on what the coaches want me to do," Webb said. "Right now, they want to keep me at receiver and see how I can improve there. As time goes, if they want to see what I got at quarterback, then I'm all for it. I'm pretty open right now so I just want to go out there and play some football."


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