The Minnesota Vikings are likely to select a quarterback at some point during the 2014 NFL Draft, but they may have to trade up from their current spot in the first round (eighth overall) to get one of the top prospects in this year’s class. General manager Rick Spielman has expressed a desire to accumulate a few more picks in May’s draft, so trading multiple picks to move into the top-five would not fit that plan.
Christian Ponder, who the Vikings selected in the first round (12th overall) in 2011, is the only quarterback currently on the roster and he is at best 50-50 to be back with the team next season. Matt Cassel might re-sign with the Vikings after exercising his right to void the final year of his contract last week, but finding a long-term option under center is still a top offseason priority. Could a quarterback selected well after Ponder in the 2011 draft become a viable option?
The New England Patriots selected Ryan Mallett in the third round (74th overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft, after a combination of rumors of prior drug use by the former Arkansas quarterback and other character concerns led to his becoming a second day pick after being mentioned as a possible first-rounder. Mallett has obviously not seen much action as Tom Brady’s backup over the last three seasons, attempting just four regular season passes, but ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling has mentioned him as a potential trade target for the Vikings.
Mallett’s size (6’7″, 240 lbs.) and arm strength, at least when we last saw him play extensively as a junior at Arkansas in 2010, look like an excellent fit for the vertical passing offense new Vikings’ offensive coordinator Norv Turner favors. But most of Mallett’s trade value lies in the assumption he has benefited greatly from being around Brady, along with the perception that he still has the physical tools to develop into a top NFL quarterback.
This year’s free agent class of quarterbacks is not flush with elite options, and I expect Turner to have plenty of input into how the Vikings go about securing a young quarterback. If Mallett can be acquired for a middle round pick, and the Vikings can re-sign Cassel with the idea of him being the Week 1 starter next season, Minnesota’s quarterback situation would look fairly promising for the first time since 2009.