The Vikings need a quarterback. This is not news, but in the weeks and months leading up to the NFL Draft, even the most obvious roster needs can be the subject of obfuscation by the coaches and front-office types responsible for making such decisions. But new Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer isn't interested in obscuring what everyone already knows.
"We are going to get some quarterbacks; obviously (Matt Cassel and Josh Freeman) are free agents and (Christian) Ponder is still on the roster," Zimmer told NFL AM. "But we have to have a quarterback, so we are going to have to find some, and that is why we are out here looking so hard and why we'll continue to look in free agency. We'll find a guy."
Zimmer wasn't slighting Ponder, the 2011 first-round pick who has struggled during his NFL career, but pointing out that there is currently one quarterback on the roster. Depth at the position is critical, and the Vikings will look to address that need in free agency.
But the team could also look to find their next franchise quarterback via the draft. The problem is that the Vikings have the No. 8 pick, and depending on whom they like, and what the teams in front of them do, their guy could be off the board.
Of the seven teams in front of them, four have legitimate needs at QB: the Texans (No. 1), Jaguars (No. 3), Browns (No. 4) and Raiders (No. 5). That means the three best QBs -- Johnny Manziel, Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater -- could all be off the board when the Vikings go on the clock. It also means that if the organization falls in love with one of them trading up could be a distinct possibility. Because the alternative -- going into the season with Ponder ... again -- isn't particularly attractive.
Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said last week that Ponder "will be here" next season, but added that "I know Christian does have the physical abilities to do it, but for whatever reason, things haven't come together for him."
Still, Spielman won't take a quarterback just because the Vikings need one.
"The ideal thing would be -- unless once we get to that point there's a player you have to go up and get -- you're hoping potentially you can pull back from that (No. 8 pick) and pick up some extra picks," he said, via TwinCities.com. "There may be a guy at eight that falls into our lap, or a guy we fall in love with that we can't pass up, either."