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I'm already getting excited for next season, especially with all the young talent we have. But my question is about the quarterback, specifically holding out until the second round to possibly pick one up. It seems there is a lot of defensive talent in this year’s draft and a lot of the players are worthy of first-round picks. Your thoughts?
-- Carson H.
This question brings me back to the 2011 NFL Draft. That was the year quarterbacks such as Jake Locker (eighth overall), Blaine Gabbert (10th overall) and
This is indeed a deep and talented draft class on the defensive side of the ball. There were a lot of standout defensive players at the Senior Bowl, and those players represent just the top half of the seniors. There is another half of the senior class plus over 100 underclassmen, and in that subset of players there is a lot of defensive talent, too. Yes, most expect the Vikings will address the quarterback position in the draft. But it’s entirely possible the Vikings will not take a quarterback at No. 8 and will instead choose among the talented defensive players on the board.
There is a dark horse quarterback in this year’s draft. He is Jimmy Garoppolo. I am a little biased being an Eastern Illinois alumnus from many years back. This kid has a very good and quick arm, he is very football intelligent, and he is from a school that has produced some great NFL players such as Jeff Gossett, Sean Payton, Tony Romo, and John Jurkovic. If the Vikings are going to coach a young quarterback, I think he is a definite keeper. What is your opinion?
-- Joseph M.
Garoppolo’s top trait is his quick release. I was able to see it first-hand at the Senior Bowl last week, and it is as quick as advertised. He has outstanding pocket mechanics, has that quick release, and throws a beautiful ball with a tight spiral. I also thought he carried himself like a pro and had great poise in the pocket. I will not be surprised if Garoppolo continues to rise up teams’ draft boards as the draft draws nearer. Following a prolific career at Eastern Illinois, he’s put together a sensational East-West Shrine Game performance and a solid week of practices at the Senior Bowl.
If Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Blake Bortles are gone by the time the Vikings pick in the first round, who would you like to see them pick at the eighth spot and what quarterback would you take in the second round?
-- Rob A.
If the draft unfolds the way Rob described, I still wouldn’t rule out a quarterback at eight overall. That is a spot someone such as Derek Carr or even Garoppolo could go. Furthermore, it’s not a guarantee the Vikings will take a quarterback in the second round if they don’t take one in the first round. I know that sounds like a longshot at this stage, but GM Rick Spielman preaches the importance of taking the best player available rather than reaching and over-drafting a player. There are enough holes on the roster to fill that the Vikings shouldn’t feel the need to jump the gun at quarterback.
I listened to a scout on the radio say that the defensive lineman out of Minnesota is really gifted and could play any place on the line. Do you think Ra’Shede Hageman would be an option at No. 8 to replace
-- Tim N.
At this point we don’t know if the Vikings will have to replace Allen at defensive end. But by the time the draft rolls around in early May, free agency will be well on its way and we’ll know if Allen needs to be replaced. Regardless of that issue, though, Hageman will likely not be a consideration as an Allen replacement because I believe he’s best suited to play defensive tackle in the NFL. He was a standout all week for the North squad at the Senior Bowl, and my favorite trait of his is his explosive first step, which he turns to power rapidly and often overwhelms the blocker assigned to him. He was more impressive to me as a pass rusher than as a run stopper, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a quality run stopper in the NFL. Overall, I was impressed with Hageman and it’s clear to me he will be an impact player in the NFL if he goes to the right situation and, of course, stays healthy and passionate about the game.
Watching the Senior Bowl, one player really stood out. What do you think of Michigan offensive lineman Michael Schofield? He would be a perfect fit for the Vikings. He can play right guard or right tackle, his arms are long and he can anchor like crazy. Do you think we should go for him in the first round, and then address the defense and quarterback in later rounds?
-- Ian S.
Without question, the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl in my mind was Notre Dame offensive tackle Zach Martin. After that, the top offensive lineman is up for debate and Schofield is definitely in the conversation. I watched him work in multiple spots along the North offensive line, and I was most impressed with him as a pass protector at offensive guard. He was also solid in run blocking at guard, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a team in need of interior offensive line talent to take him in the first few rounds. The first round, especially for the Vikings at eighth overall, seems a bit too high for my liking, but you never know and we are very early yet.
If Charles Tillman becomes a free agent, do you think there will be a chance of the Vikings signing him? He could be a great veteran leader for our young defensive backs, such as
-- Juan L.
There is certainly a chance, but what that chance is I’m not sure at this point. Tillman has been one of the NFL’s top playmakers at cornerback during his 11-year career with the Bears, so it won’t be a surprise if there is a fair amount of demand for his services this offseason. At the same time, he is turning 33 next Monday and missed eight games to injury last season. Some teams may wonder if he’s breaking down, yet others will point to the fact that, before this season, he missed just three total games in the previous six seasons. Bottom line, he’s a terrific cornerback who would indeed provide veteran leadership to an otherwise young group in Minnesota. Whether he’s a good fit for the Vikings or not, only time will tell.