The fan base for the Minnesota Vikings is clamoring for a new quarterback. Franchise quarterbacks cannot be found through free agency. The draft is the only way to find and develop one.
The Vikings currently own the fourth pick in the 2014 NFL Draft in April behind the Houston Texans, St. Louis Rams (acquired from the Washington Redskins) and the Atlanta Falcons. The teams with four wins are the Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills.
Those nine teams are in a wide range of quarterback situations; some need one, some have young unproven signal callers and some are set.
The Falcons signed Matt Ryan to a long-term contract last offseason. He still is capable of taking the Falcons to the big game. The Falcons are not going to take a quarterback in the early rounds of this year’s draft.
The Bills drafted E.J. Manuel in the first round of last year’s draft. Manuel has the makings to be a very good NFL quarterback. They are not going to select a quarterback in the early rounds of this year’s draft.
The Browns are one of the most desperate teams in the league for a quarterback. Brandon Weeden hasn’t worked out and Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer are quality backups at best.
The Jaguars are the other most quarterback starved team in the league. Blaine Gabbert hasn’t improved and Chad Henne is a backup at best. The Jaguars are likely to select head coach Gus Bradley’s guy early in the draft.
Before this season, the Texans believed Matt Schaub was their long-term solution. He has now been benched and put in to replace Case Keenum the last few games. The Texans need to figure out before April if Keenum can be the leader of their offense. Whoever the next head coach of the team is will determine who is the starting quarterback in Week 1.
The Vikings fall under the middle category. Christian Ponder has shown the ability to make plays, but also has been as consistently inconsistent as possible right to the end. He is still making the same mistakes as he was making his first two seasons. The Vikings should be ready to move on and find the next quarterback early in the draft.
The Raiders have a pair of young quarterbacks with two very different skill sets that have shown the ability to effectively move the offense. Terrelle Pryor is more athletic and has the ability to make plays with his feet while Matt McGloin is a better passer. Head coach Dennis Allen will have to decide if one or both of those two can lead the team for the long-term.
Is Sam Bradford the long-term answer for the Rams? I don’t know, but the team is still paying the former No. 1 overall pick a lot of money. Health has been a problem for Bradford. Given the money the team has invested in him, they are more likely to be in the market for a backup and would not take a quarterback in the early rounds of the draft.
The Buccaneers were supposed to be in the desperate category when Josh Freeman was benched and eventually released. However, Mike Glennon could be the answer. The Buccaneers drafted him in the third round this past draft. He has led them to four wins and shows promise as a starter. The team will ultimately have to decide if he can be the answer.
The options in the draft
With University of Oregon sophomore Marcus Mariota already announcing his return to school, University of Louisville junior Teddy Bridgewater looks like the only top 10 quarterback. According to Scouts Inc.’s, Bridgewater (No. 8 overall, 93 grade), Central Florida senior Blake Bortles (No. 14, 92) and Texas A&M sophomore Johnny Manziel (No. 20, 90) among the top 32 prospects.