Oregon Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota announced Tuesday night his intentions to stay in college for another season, and chase a National Championship. While this is completely understandable for one of the most electric players in the nation as the Ducks have had a disappointing season, Mariota’s decision to stay in college is terrible news for the Minnesota Vikings, a team that should have been targeting the talented signal caller.
The Vikings have struggled from poor quarterback play this season, so it should be no surprise if they decide to go after a franchise quarterback in the first round of next year’s NFL Draft. I, in fact, hope the Vikings target a quarterback early in the draft next April, and prior to his decision to remain at Oregon, I was hopeful the Vikings would select the promising 20-year-old from Hawaii.
The Vikings are slated to have the sixth overall pick at the moment, and given they have a relatively tough schedule ahead, it’s quite possible they move up before the season ends. They likely will miss out on the presumed No. 1 pick Teddy Bridgewater, but now instead of looking at Mariota as the No. 2 QB prospect, the Vikings will be deciding among Tajh Boyd, Derek Carr, Johnny Manziel and possibly others by the time the draft roles around.
Bridgewater and Mariota were the undisputed top quarterbacks in the upcoming class, but after those two, the talent level takes a step back. Carr and Boyd have the arm strength to succeed in the NFL, but there are still questions surrounding their games; and we all know the knock on Manziel is that his style of play won’t transition to the next level. With uncertainty surrounding the other first-round talent quarterbacks, and this class appearing to be one of the deepest in years, it presents the Vikings with the opportunity to draft defense first, and go quarterback later.
At the moment, those players who headline as second- or third-round talent are A.J. McCarron, Zach Mettenberger, David Fales and Aaron Murray. A few of these players, especially McCarron and Fales, are interesting to me as they make good decisions and could start under center for the Vikings on day one. Neither possess the arm strength of Carr, Boyd or Mettenberger, but they are both effective game-managers and could make the already-loaded Vikings’ offense an immediate threat.
The only problem with the Vikings waiting to take one of the recently mentioned quarterbacks is that QBs tend to fall of the board early, and their is an unusually high number of teams that will be looking to upgrade at the position through the draft. As it stands now, there are three teams positioned in draft before the Vikings that could look quarterback first round, and they are the Houston Texans, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It would be nice if the Buccaneers could continue winning with Mike Glennon at quarterback, but even if that happens, Bridgewater would remain a long shot to don the purple and gold. This leaves Vikings management in a difficult position as they must make a decision that will dictate the fate of the franchise for years to come, and do so with one of the top QB prospects now off the board. Personally, I’d like to see them draft Boyd, Carr or Manziel in the first round, in that order, but we unfortunately must wait another six months to see what current collegian will lead the Vikings for the forseeable future.