The Minnesota Vikings have to find a franchise quarterback, and this is something that Rick Spielman has failed to do as the Vikings GM. My prediction is that Spielman will keep his job while Leslie Frazier will be kicked to the curb, but a franchise quarterback is priority No. 1 for whoever the GM of the Vikings is in the offseason. Matt Cassel clearly isn’t anything more than a solid backup, and Christian Ponder just doesn’t have the tools to be a franchise QB. You can make the playoffs with him, but it takes a whole lot of effort from the other guys on the roster to achieve that goal.
So the Vikings will almost have to take a quarterback with their top ten pick in the 2014 NFL Draft (they could wait until the second round to grab a guy like Zach Mettenberger if they are really high on him, but there’s a risk in waiting for “your guy”), and the big question is, which one? In his latest 2014 NFL Mock Draft on NFLMocks.com, Erik Lambert believes that Johnny Manziel will be the next quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings. You can read his full mock and the explanation of the pick here.
I’m for the Manziel pick because of the context. Teddy Bridgewater was taken by the Houston Texans, the Jacksonville Jaguars snagged Fresno State’s Derek Carr, and Blake Bortles (the best pick for the Vikings) was selected by the Cleveland Browns. That left Johnny Football as the best quarterback available for the Vikings with the eighth pick in this mock, and Lambert decided that the Vikings need to take a guy with Manziel’s skill-set instead of waiting to take a QB in round two.
I’m fine with this pick, but it’s definitely one that comes with a high amount of risk. Would Spielman be willing to take that risk? If it means trying to save his job, then yes. Manziel has a boatload of talent, and there’s no denying the fact that his ability has covered up a lot of weaknesses on this Texas A&M football team. Unlike Ponder, Manziel has excellent arm strength, and he has even more rushing ability than Ponder. But like Ponder, there are questions as to whether or not Manziel has the size to be an effective running quarterback in the NFL due to the pain he will be subjected to (Ndamukong Suh is in that division, too).
If the consensus top three QBs are already taken before the Vikings pick and they aren’t completely sold on Manziel or other QBs, then they should wait. As we saw with the Ponder pick a few years ago, reaching for a quarterback solely for the sake of taking one isn’t good business. It’s going to be a lot harder for Spielman to lay off of not making an “oh crap” pick at QB in an effort to save himself, but that’s what he would need to do to help the Vikings organization (assuming he’s still GM when the Vikings are picking in May). If they aren’t sold on anyone in the top ten, then they should try and trade down, nab a corner, and then use that extra pick on a QB that they like.
The fact that the Vikings need to take a quarterback and find a franchise guy is non-negotiable, but where they pick one is up to them. Maybe they want to take someone from the “grab bag” of solid prospects like David Fales or Aaron Murray instead of taking Manziel in the top ten, but they have to come away with a QB. Since Manziel is the best available at that point and the Vikes desperately need a QB, not many gripes can be made about this selection.