After the way Matt Cassel showed up Christian Ponder last week in London, it is clear the Minnesota Vikings will be looking for their franchise quarterback this offseason. The answer likely won’t be through free agency, but instead it will be with the drafting of a rookie QB, who is hopefully named Tajh Boyd.
Boyd is a senior for the undefeated Clemson Tigers, who have already taken down one top-five team. Boyd has only made 114 of the team’s 154 pass attempts as they have been in quite a few blowouts already, which has led to garbage time snaps for others. While on the field, Boyd has been as effective as ever completing 64 percent of his passes and throwing nine touchdowns compared to zero interceptions. Although the completion percentage doesn’t jump off the page, it is clear after watching just a few Clemson games he hasn’t gotten much help from his receiving corps.
Boyd, of course, has been helped by the efforts of fellow top-10 talent Sammy Watkins, his star wide receiver, but other receivers have stone hands at times and drop passes. Boyd is one of the most experienced passers in college football as he is in his third year as a full-time starter and it shows when he is in the pocket. Boyd always has his eyes downfield and the ball held high, even when on the run, meaning he is always ready to sling a pass with plenty of zip.
Watkins has allowed Boyd to show off the strength of his arm on deep throws, but what really stands out is Boyd’s deep throw accuracy as he constantly hits receivers in stride. The running ability Boyd posses is above what the Vikings currently have with Ponder, although not by much, but the pairing of Boyd with Adrian Peterson could open up some interesting offensive possibilities.
Comparing Boyd to other top quarterbacks expected to enter the upcoming draft, it is clear he stands apart from all but one. The one who many consider as the top-ranked quarterback is the Louisville Cardinals‘ signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater, but after seeing the poise and escapability Boyd has while in the pocket, I’m not convinced they are that far apart.
Another important factor in the Vikings’ search for a new quarterback will be how NFL-ready the candidates are. Other quarterbacks like Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota and Stephen Morris show plenty of weaknesses in their game that aren’t seen in Boyd’s, which makes him one of the most NFL-ready quarterbacks in the draft, thus making it even more important the Vikings draft him.
The only concern I have with the Vikings’ ability to draft Boyd is if they win too many games and he is already off the board by the time they are drafting. This is a deep quarterback class, yes, but Boyd and Bridgewater really stand apart from everyone else, and trading up to make sure they get one of the two is as risk I think the Vikings need to take.