Heading into the 2014 offseason, the Minnesota Vikings knew they needed to address the quarterback position. They re-signed Matt Cassel and kept Christian Ponder on purely as a backup, but were expected to target one of the 2014 NFL Draft’s top arms.
During the Rant Sports 2014 NFL Mock Draft, they did just that.
With the No. 8 pick, the Vikings nabbed UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, considered by some to be the best passer of the 2014 draft class. Possessing a big arm, outstanding pocket awareness and all of the necessary tools needed to succeed in the NFL, it seems like a win for Minnesota.
With Bortles on board, the Vikings can move on from the Ponder era. Although the fourth-year gunslinger might stick with the team as a veteran option who is familiar with the organization, he’ll likely to be nothing more than an emergency option. Cassel might get a few early starts while the Vikings try to bring Bortles up to speed, but he’s nothing more than a stop-gap until the rookie is ready to take the reins.
What is exciting about Bortles is his mix of talents, ranging from Ben Roethlisberger-esque pocket movement and size to Andrew Luck-esque smarts and instincts. While he definitely needs work once he enters the NFL, Bortles has the well-rounded game and head on his shoulders to give the Vikings a legitimate starter under center.
There is some bust potential lingering in Bortles, but he’s a definite upgrade over Cassel and Ponder. The Vikings are desperate for a capable quarterback to take their offense to the next level, and Bortles appears to be a solid candidate to do so.