Minnesota Vikings: 2014 NFL draft

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will begin welcoming players to town on Wednesday for their top-30 prospects event, which uses many of their 30 allotted pre-draft visits to create a two-day convention of sorts for draft hopefuls at the team's facility. The Vikings have held the event about 3 1/2 weeks before the draft for the past several years, and players will meet with coaches and team executives while in the Twin Cities.

Here is a partial list of prospects attending the event, based on what we've been able to confirm and what other outlets have reported:
The Vikings also met with Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater over the weekend, and reportedly met with Towson running back Terrance West on Tuesday.

The event doesn't necessarily indicate the prospects at the top of the Vikings' draft board -- some of the players brought to the Twin Cities for visits might not be taken until the third day of the draft -- and is an inconsistent predictor of whether the team will actually draft a player. The Vikings invited left tackle Matt Kalil to the event in 2012, and selected him fourth overall. Safety Harrison Smith wasn't at the event, and the Vikings traded back into the first round to select him in the same draft.

But even though the Vikings won't take a large number of the players they invite to the event, they can still use it for other purposes: possibly to learn more about a player's teammate, to make other teams think they're interested in a certain player or to file away information on a player for years down the road. That last reason can be particularly useful; after the Vikings signed defensive tackle Linval Joseph last month, general manager Rick Spielman mentioned the team hosted Joseph at its top-30 event before the New York Giants drafted him in 2010.

And of course, there are players like Mack and Barr, who could be legitimate options for the Vikings with the No. 8 overall pick. It's best not to treat the event as a be-all, end-all -- or anything close to it -- but for the Vikings, it can be a useful piece of the pre-draft evaluation puzzle.
MINNEAPOLIS -- During an offseason full of moves to improve the first and third levels of their defense, the Minnesota Vikings have left their linebacking group largely unchanged. The team brought back Jasper Brinkley after letting him leave in free agency a year earlier, but five of the seven linebackers presently on the Vikings' roster were also there last year. It seemed obvious they needed to improve at the position, but considering how thin the free agent linebacker class was, it was always more likely the Vikings would address the position in the draft.

Based on how they're setting up their top-30 prospects event for Wednesday and Thursday, the Vikings certainly seem to be doing their homework on linebackers. Louisville linebacker Preston Brown said he will attend the event, and two league sources said UCLA's Anthony Barr and Boise State's Demarcus Lawrence will also be there. Additionally, NFL.com reported that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack -- who could be drafted well before the Vikings make the eighth pick in next month's draft -- will travel to the Twin Cities for the event, as well.

General manager Rick Spielman said last month he feels good about some of the young linebackers the Vikings already have, and Audie Cole might have played his way into contention for a starting spot based on how he did at the end of last year. Michael Mauti is more than a year removed from knee surgery, and could push for a starting spot at either middle or outside linebacker. But with Chad Greenway at age 31, having renegotiated his contract and due to become a free agent after 2015, the Vikings need to get some things in place for their future at the position. They could especially use an active, physical linebacker who could cast an imposing presence in Mike Zimmer's defense, and all of the linebackers we know the Vikings are bringing in for pre-draft visits would fit that profile.

It's always dangerous to assume the Vikings' top-30 event reveals anything definitive about the team's pre-draft thinking, since teams have so many other avenues to talk with and evaluate prospects before the draft. But as purposefully as the Vikings have addressed their defensive needs this offseason, they've left themselves some work to do at linebacker. If nothing else, their top-30 event could hint at the strategy they plan to use to improve the position.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings are continuing their search for a young quarterback at the end of the week, holding a private workout with Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo today, as ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported. The workout comes after the Vikings met with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger following his pro day, and before the team plans to fly Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Twin Cities for a meeting next week.

General manager Rick Spielman said at the NFL scouting combine the Vikings would conduct private workouts with "eight or nine" quarterbacks, so it's no surprise to see them making the rounds with a month to go before the NFL draft. They'd already met with Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Fresno State's Derek Carr, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, and reportedly had a private workout with San Jose State's David Fales. The Vikings also met with South Carolina's Connor Shaw at the NFL scouting combine, and had a scout at his pro day, though Shaw isn't projected to go as high in the draft as the other quarterbacks the Vikings have scouted.

The Vikings are believed to be high on Mettenberger, who threw more than 100 passes at his pro day in an attempt to show the progress he's made since tearing his ACL last fall. The quarterback had dinner with four Vikings officials on Wednesday night, according to a league source, and seemed to click well with offensive coordinator Norv Turner; by the end of Mettenberger's workout, the source said, Turner was calling out the routes he wanted to see Mettenberger throw. The quarterback could be raw in some areas of his game, but he might have one of the stronger arms in the draft, and could be a good fit for Turner's deep passing game.

As we get closer to the draft, though, the Vikings will have to consider plenty of different permutations for the quarterback position. They'll have to decide if they want to take one in the first round, or wait until later in the draft, and they'll have to sift through a deep quarterback class where sure things are thought to be in short supply. And if Spielman has been known for one thing in his career, it's his thoroughness. We're certainly seeing that play out here.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The list of prospects the Minnesota Vikings are bringing to the Twin Cities for their top-30 prospects event next week is starting to take shape.

Louisville linebacker Preston Brown will join his teammate, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, in Minnesota next week. ESPN's Josina Anderson reported earlier this week that Bridgewater will visit the Vikings next week, and a league source said Brown will also meet with the team. UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr had also told Fox Sports he will visit the Vikings, and Towson running back Terrance West will be part of the event, as the Baltimore Sun first reported this week.

The Vikings typically allocate many of their 30 pre-draft visits to the two-day event, which allows coaches and team executives to meet with players 3 1/2 weeks before the draft. The event isn't necessarily a perfect indicator of how interested the Vikings are in certain players; for example, they brought USC tackle Matt Kalil to the event in 2012, but didn't extend an invitation to Notre Dame safety Harrison Smith. Twenty-three days later, the Vikings took both players in the first round.

Quarterbacks such as Central Florida's Blake Bortles, LSU's Zach Mettenberger and Fresno State's Derek Carr aren't expected to be at the event; the Vikings met with all of them, as well as Alabama's AJ McCarron and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel after their on-campus pro days. Those meetings, or private workouts like the ones the Vikings had with San Jose State quarterback David Fales, can often be as helpful as the Vikings' event next week. But as the draft gets closer, the Vikings will use many of their visits to spend time with a wide range of prospects who could be taken anywhere from the first round to the middle of the draft.
ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay's latest mock draft spans two rounds, and like Mel Kiper Jr. did last week in his Grade A mock draft, McShay has the Vikings addressing perhaps their biggest need on each side of the ball with their first two picks.

The Vikings will have a number of different directions they could pursue at quarterback and cornerback with the eighth and 40th overall picks, and it's conceivable they could draft a quarterback and cornerback in either order in the first two rounds. If the draft falls the way McShay predicts it will, however, the Vikings will have an interesting choice on their hands at N0. 8.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will bring Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to the Twin Cities for a visit on Monday and Tuesday, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson. We've heard the Vikings top-30 prospects event is scheduled for the middle of April, and it appears Bridgewater's visit could be part of it.

Since the NFL draft went to a three-day format in 2010, the Vikings have conducted their top-30 prospects event 3 1/2 weeks before the draft each year. With the draft being bumped back to May 8-10 this year, the Vikings also pushed back their event from the first week of April. Each team in the NFL is allowed to bring 30 draft hopefuls to its facilities for meetings with coaches, and the Vikings have typically used most of their allotment to bring many prospects in at once.

The event doesn't necessarily identify the Vikings' top 30 prospects, however. It has allowed the team to spend more time with players it wants to learn more about, but the Vikings have also used high picks on players who weren't at the event, like safety Harrison Smith in 2012. From what we've heard, the Vikings don't plan to bring Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger or Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr to the event; they held individual meetings with all three, as well as Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron, after their respective pro days, and while they also met with Bridgewater after his pro day, their decision to opt for a second visit with him doesn't crystallize where he stands in their pecking order. They might have more they want to learn about him, and the closer we get to the draft, of course, the more teams use subterfuge to cloud their true intentions.

It is worth noting, though, that Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner didn't seem as distraught by Bridgewater's subpar pro day as some others; he told NFL.com last Month he thought Bridgewater was "pretty good" during his March 17 workout. Now, it appears, the Vikings will take one more chance to sit down with Bridgewater before the draft.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Since Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer made his much-discussed comments about the "sideshow" at Johnny Manziel's pro day and the "flags" that come up with the ballyhooed Texas A&M quarterback, there have been plenty of attempts (on this blog and others) to discern what it could mean for the chances of the Vikings taking Manziel with the eighth pick in the May draft.

But Manziel's compatibility with offensive coordinator Norv Turner's scheme might be worth just as much of a look as whether he would click with Zimmer.

For our purposes, the nice thing about Turner is, he's got 23 seasons of experience as a head coach or offensive coordinator that can be used to evaluate his team's tendencies. And in Turner's time with the Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, Miami Dolphins, Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns, there simply isn't a template for a quarterback like Manziel.

In Turner's 23 seasons as a head coach or coordinator, he's never had a quarterback run for more than 192 yards in a season, and that came with the diminutive Doug Flutie in 2001. In the nine times Turner's had one of the top 10 scoring offenses in the league, his quarterbacks have run 41, 49, 28, 28, 40, 31, 35, 35 and 31 times, counting kneel-downs at the end of games. In two 13-game seasons at Texas A&M, Manziel ran 201 and 144 times, for 1,410 and 759 yards. There will be plenty of NFL teams who will ask him to curtail his scrambling somewhat, partially to reduce the number of unnecessary hits he'll absorb. But if you draft Manziel, you're doing so in part because of his ability to improvise and make plays with his feet, and you're doing so knowing he's probably going to take some extra sacks in the process. It's hard to see a coordinator as established as Turner playing his type that much, especially when quarterbacks like Blake Bortles, Derek Carr and Zach Mettenberger (with whom the Vikings will meet tomorrow) would seem like more logical fits.

This isn't to say the Vikings won't take Manziel a month from tonight if he's still available with the eighth overall pick. But like we discussed in regard to Zimmer's comments last week, Manziel might have to clear some pretty high thresholds for the Vikings to be convinced he's their guy. If he is wearing purple come May 8, it'll be because he answered whatever concerns Zimmer might have and proved he can fit in Turner's offense when there really isn't a precedent for a quarterback like him doing so.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings will continue their hunt for a young quarterback in Baton Rouge, La., this week, when they attend LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger's pro day and meet with him individually after his workout, according to a league source.

The Vikings have the No. 8 pick in the draft, but had planned to meet with most of the prominent quarterbacks in this year's draft class. They're believed to be highly interested in Mettenberger, who has one of the strongest arms in this year's class, and if they were able to get the 6-foot-5 quarterback in the second round, they'd be able to address another position -- possibly on defense -- in the first round.

Mettenberger could still be available with the 40th overall pick after tearing his ACL in November, and the teams that meet with him this week will also want to address character concerns after Mettenberger pleaded guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery in a case that ultimately led to him transferring from Georgia and spending a year in junior college before landing at LSU. But if he's able to show he's matured -- and healed -- he could see his draft stock climb. The source said the Vikings have not yet invited Mettenberger to their top-30 prospects event later this month, but it's likely the Vikings would do most of their work with Mettenberger on campus anyway.

That might make him a good fit for the Vikings, who are believed to be exploring quarterback options outside the first round. Even if Mettenberger were to climb the draft board enough to be a late first-round pick, the Vikings have dealt back into the first round each of the past two years, and have an extra third-round pick to help facilitate a move up.

While the fact that the draft is still a month away means any information about which way a team is leaning must be taken with a grain of salt, there's been quite a bit of talk about the Vikings' interest in Mettenberger, and it appears they will invest plenty of time getting to know him this week.
MINNEAPOLIS -- As we get closer to next month's NFL draft, there is probably no Minnesota Vikings question we've discussed more than this one: If the Vikings find themselves with an opportunity to take a quarterback with the eighth overall pick on May 8, should they do it? Or should they address another need, return to the quarterback position later in the draft and take their chances on the players they find there?

That question has been complicated further by the fact that none of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft seems to have asserted himself as a sure thing. ESPN NFL draft expert Mel Kiper said there is a "super seven" group of players at the top of the draft board -- in what many football people have called one of the best drafts in years -- and none of the quarterbacks are in it.

The group, Kiper said, consists of South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins, Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, Michigan offensive tackle Taylor Lewan and Texas A&M receiver Mike Evans.

"That’s your super seven," Kiper said. "After that, I don’t see anybody that belongs in that group right now. I don’t think any of the quarterbacks do, and I don’t see any other players jumped up that far. So that’s your sensational seven, if you want to say that. Then you’re getting into the range where the eighth guy could be the 18th guy on some boards. To me, the seven are the consensus seven."

The problem for the Vikings with that group is that three members are offensive tackles. Minnesota is set at that position with Matt Kalil and Phil Loadholt. Watkins or Evans could be an option, but with Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson already on the roster, the Vikings would probably take another receiver only if they thought stockpiling the position was worth passing on a chance to fill another need. Clowney and Mack seem likely to be gone by the time the Vikings pick.

But if one team above the Vikings takes a quarterback, or drafts another player, one of those seven players would be on the board at No. 8. Even if that group is gone, the Vikings could choose from a number of other players to help their defense. Is it worth passing on a quarterback to go that direction?

"It’s incredible. There are about a dozen quarterbacks that could be starters, and out of those dozen, there are some that argue that all 12 of them will never be a successful starter," Kiper said. "This is a crazy year for quarterbacks. There is a lot of quantity, but how much quality is debatable. But if [Central Florida's Blake] Bortles is there at 8, unless they just don’t like Bortles, it would be tough to pass him up.

"The bottom line with the Vikings -- and I’ve said this for three months -- is, I don’t care who they like or don’t like, they’ve got to get a quarterback. And however they do it, they’ve got to get a lot better at quarterback. You can’t be the fourth team in the division at quarterback by a wide margin and have any chance of being any more than a borderline playoff team at best, and probably in the cellar, more than likely, if things at other positions don’t go your way."

Of the top three quarterbacks in the draft, Kiper said Bortles was "more of a consensus" in the top eight picks than Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel or Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater.

If the Vikings did pass on one in the first round, they could come back for someone like Fresno State's Derek Carr, Alabama's AJ McCarron, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo or Georgia's Aaron Murray later in the draft. Kiper said some teams feel Carr is better than the top three quarterbacks and assuaged some concerns about Murray's arm strength, saying it's "more than good enough."

"Which quarterback do [the Vikings] like? We don’t know right now. Everybody’s trying to figure that out," Kiper said. "Everybody’s not going to like Bortles, everybody’s not going to like Manziel, Bridgewater, Carr, this whole group. There’s some that really like these guys. There’s some that really don’t like these guys."
In his Grade A mock draftInsider, ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. has the Minnesota Vikings ticking through their list of needs with the same efficiency they've displayed this offseason. The Vikings spent most of the free-agency period filling holes on defense, signing former New York Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph, adding Carolina Panthers cornerback Captain Munnerlyn to help solve their problem at slot cornerback and filling out their defensive line depth with New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Tom Johnson and Chicago Bears defensive end Corey Wootton.

Now, with the help of four picks in the first three rounds, the Vikings have an opportunity to improve their secondary depth and find a backup for Adrian Peterson. According to Kiper, though, they'd find a fit for what might be their biggest need with the eighth overall pick.

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Good afternoon from Minnesota Vikings blog headquarters, where we're back at full speed today after a few days off for vacation -- although you could call it a working trip, if you're inclined to think the need for an update on the Vikings' odds of winning Super Bowl XLIX was worth a trip out west.

(For the record, the sportsbook at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas improved the Vikings' odds from 60-1 to 30-1 last week. See? It was a productive visit.)

Anyway, while we were gone, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel had his pro day, before more than 75 NFL personnel (and one former president). He wore a helmet and shoulder pads, he hit receivers with Drake tracks as a backdrop and he left Vikings coach Mike Zimmer nonplussed with the "sideshow" that accompanied the workout.

We'd caution strongly against making any sweeping assumptions based on Zimmer's comments, since subterfuge is the name of the game between now and next month's NFL draft. In effect, all Zimmer did was point out the obvious -- that Manziel's off-the-field exploits merit extra scrutiny from NFL teams before the draft. The Vikings, and every other team considering Manziel, will have to decipher how much of the Johnny Football spectacle will follow Manziel to the next level, and they'll have to assess how much of it they're willing to tolerate. Manziel seemed to know it at the NFL scouting combine in February, when he took great pains to distance himself from his celebrity persona, though some of the decisions he made for his pro day showed he's still going to buck NFL convention at times.

That's not to say Manziel can't succeed with some brashness; in fact, he's probably been successful to this point because of it. If that spills into a lack of focus, or reveals Manziel to be an unbridled quarterback who won't work within the structure of a NFL offense, that's a different problem, and Zimmer doesn't seem like one who will tolerate a feckless quarterback.

Consider what Zimmer told reporters last week at the NFL owners meetings when talking about picking a quarterback: "For me, it's the character of the guy. Will this guy lead our football team? I want to make sure that the guy we bring in has the athletic ability but I also want him to have my persona. Because him and I are going to be tied together, whoever we draft. I don't want him to be a completely different personality from me if I can help it. I want this guy to be a leader and a guy who wants to take a bunch a guys and make a great franchise. "

If that's his metric, and one of Zimmer's main jobs in picking a quarterback is evaluating his leadership skills, you can bet he's going to pay extra attention to the Johnny Football side of Manziel. If the former Heisman Trophy winner is available to the Vikings with the No. 8 pick next month, they will have had to decide whether they're comfortable with Manziel, and all that comes with him. His pro day decisions could have been his way of showing NFL teams he can succeed under a big spotlight, as Manziel seemed to be signaling last week.

It's premature at this point to assume Zimmer would or wouldn't want to work with Manziel based on the "flags" he's seen with the quarterback, but it seems like a safe bet the Vikings won't take Manziel unless Zimmer has decided it's the right circumstance to accept all the pomp that comes with him.
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Minnesota Vikings are interviewing quarterback prospects before the NFL draft, offensive coordinator Norv Turner is using a drill he's employed for years in learning about how quickly a player can digest an NFL playbook.

Turner will diagram a handful of plays, with different permutations of personnel and protection schemes, and then turn things around, asking the quarterback prospect to pick several plays and walk through how they're supposed to work. That drill, in addition to teaching the Vikings about their draft options, has been educational for new head coach Mike Zimmer.

"We’ve been working out these quarterbacks, and we go over the offense with these players," Zimmer told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Wednesday. "That’s actually helped. I’ll sit in there, we’ll talk about the offense, and after we get done, I’ll ask him, ‘Why are we doing it this way? This makes more sense to me.’ And we talk about it. He’s been doing it for a long time, so he’s got a lot of good points."

It's clear that as the Vikings determine when to take a quarterback in this year's draft, they're going to lean heavily on Turner's expertise. He helped develop Troy Aikman in Dallas, worked out Drew Brees when the Chargers drafted him and was San Diego's head coach during Philip Rivers' formative seasons. In an organization with a defensive-minded head coach in Zimmer and a general manager who admittedly has struggled at picking quarterbacks (Rick Spielman), Turner's opinion will carry plenty of weight this spring.

From what Zimmer said on Wednesday, though, it appears Turner will have the freedom to do his work in a cooperative structure that, if it works, will succeed because Turner's not itching to be a head coach again and Zimmer's not afraid to admit what he doesn't know. From the Vikings' approach to free agency this offseason and from what Zimmer said on Wednesday, it's been clear the coach's first job this spring has been attending to a defense that gave up more points than any in the league last season. Because of that, Zimmer said, he hasn't been in the offensive meeting room as much as he'd like.

He has Turner, though, who has had three head coaching jobs and seems to relish a coordinator's work, away from the glare of the top job, at age 61.

"I don’t think he wants to be the head coach. I think he wants to be the offensive coordinator. It’s easier," Zimmer said. "If someone wants your job, it’s a little bit harder to handle those kinds of things. But I’ve felt great with Norv."

Zimmer said when he first took the job that he didn't want to simply be a defensive coach and leave the offense to someone else, and one of his first big tasks as a head coach is his ability to jump from overseeing a defense to managing a whole team. But he said again on Wednesday how it was important for him to get an experienced coordinator like Turner, and it's clear Zimmer is using Turner as a resource as much as he's delegating to him.

"I think that was why it was so important I got Norv in here," Zimmer said. "I’ve spent a lot of time with Norv in the last month and a half. I just go sit in his office, and we talk about the quarterbacks, we talk about the draft, we talk about how we use Adrian Peterson, all those types of scenarios."

As that partnership relates to evaluating quarterbacks, it sounds like Zimmer will leave much of the technical work to Turner. The coach's sphere of influence, then, will come more in judging what kind of a leader his quarterback can be. As Zimmer mentioned, he played quarterback in high school, and he'll be able to lean on Turner. It sounds, though, like the coach has a fairly specific persona he's looking for in a quarterback.

"For me, it's the character of the guy. Will this guy lead our football team?" Zimmer said. "I want to make sure that the guy we bring in has the athletic ability but I also want him to have my persona. Because him and I are going to be tied together, whoever we draft. I don't want him to be a completely different personality from me if I can help it. I want this guy to be a leader and a guy who wants to take a bunch a guys and make a great franchise.

"I want him to be the first one in the building. These are a lot of things that I talk to them about and try to figure out how smart he is. All of these quarterbacks have played great in college and all of them could be the guy. The ones that don't make it are the ones when the lights come on and things are moving and he has to react and put the ball in the right place. How do you judge that? That's the biggest thing. How do we figure that out? If any of these teams could figure that out, that would be the right thing."
MINNEAPOLIS -- Vikings general manager Rick Spielman and offensive coordinator Norv Turner took their quarterback search to the West Coast on Thursday, being spotted at Fresno State for Derek Carr's pro day. They'll reportedly stay out west on Friday, to take a look at San Jose State quarterback David Fales.

The Sacramento Bee reported Fales has a private workout scheduled with the Vikings for Friday, after he hit 52 of 53 passes in his pro day workout on Wednesday. Spielman had said the Vikings planned to take a look at 10 different quarterbacks, so it shouldn't be a major surprise that the Vikings would spend some time with Fales while they're in the area.

Fales is projected by many to be a mid-round pick in this spring's draft, but he's won favorable reviews because of his accuracy. ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer, who was at Fales' pro day on Wednesday, called him a "Trent Green clone," and if that comparison to the former Redskins, Rams, Chiefs and Dolphins QB sticks in your head for any reason, it should be because Green got his first chance to start in 1998, when Turner was coaching the Redskins. In fact, when I was talking to Turner for our Hot Read piece on quarterback evaluation, he named Green as the quarterback whose improvement most surprised him in his years as a coach. We obviously don't know at this point if Turner saw the same comparison as Dilfer, but if he did, it might help him project how Fales would fit in his offense.

It's likely the Vikings will get face time with most of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft as they try to figure out their future at the position, but Fales could be a name to keep in mind if the middle rounds of the draft roll around and the Vikings are still looking for a young QB to develop.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Once its immediacy fades, the effect of Teddy Bridgewater's underwhelming performance at his pro day will likely just be one metric of the Louisville quarterback's pre-draft evaluation, not the single factor that will send his draft stock careening all over the board.

Bridgewater has a splendid college resume, was seen as one of the more NFL-ready quarterbacks in this draft class and will still possess plenty of interest for teams who need a quarterback, none of which are about to blackball Bridgewater because he displayed accuracy issues while throwing without a glove and raised questions about his arm strength.

While we're going to guess the Minnesota Vikings would still consider Bridgewater seriously if he falls to them at No. 8 (NFL.com's Gil Brandt said Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner thought Bridgewater looked fine), the subpar performance does re-introduce a question Vikings GM Rick Spielman was asking at the NFL scouting combine: Why wouldn't quarterbacks give themselves another chance to throw in front of scouts?

Bridgewater decided not to throw at the combine, effectively putting more weight on his pro day than there would have been if he'd thrown in Indianapolis in February. Many quarterbacks decide to go that route because it gives them more control over the variables -- they're throwing to a receiver they've worked with for months, going over a program of throws they've drilled dozens, if not hundreds, of times. But looking back on it now, it's tough to imagine Bridgewater wouldn't want another chance to throw in front of scouts to diversify his portfolio, so to speak.

"It's an opportunity to put yourself to start jockeying for position," Spielman said at the combine. "To me, it's always -- whether agents agree or disagree -- it's a chance to compete and I don’t put as much stock into the accuracy thing because I understand they haven't worked with these receivers and the timing. It’s more just looking at the throwing motion, the mechanics, things like that. The arm strength. I think if you have a chance to compete, you should get out there and compete. An example has been Ben Roethlisberger. I remember everyone on him -- he didn't look very good (at the combine) and he ended up being a pretty damn good quarterback and still taken in the first round. So I think agents and players sometimes overthink this. Just go out there and give me a ball a let me throw it. Who cares?"

As ESPN NFL draft expert Todd McShay, who was at Bridgewater's pro day, points out, quarterbacks usually look great in that setting because they're not facing a defense and everything has been planned for months. As silly as it is for that type of manicured workout to be the determining factor in a quarterback's draft stock, it might be equally silly to pass up another chance to make an impression, especially when things go off course like they did for Bridgewater on Monday.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: Vikings

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
In his third mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has a quarterback -- and a headline-grabber, at that -- sliding to the Vikings at No. 8: He's got them taking Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, as the top three quarterbacks in the draft all slide out of the top three overall picks.

The Vikings would have interest in Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, whom Kiper now has projected to go No. 1 overall to Houston, and with the Matt Cassel signing, they are not obligated to take a quarterback with the eighth overall pick. But if Manziel were still there, it might be tough for the Vikings to pass on him, especially since they could pair him with offensive coordinator Norv Turner and Cassel, putting him in a structure where he's able to develop. Manziel wouldn't have to start the first week of the season unless he were good enough to do so, and even if he did, Cassel would give him an experienced quarterback to learn from. It's also worth noting that Turner was the San Diego Chargers' offensive coordinator when they picked Drew Brees; in other words, Manziel's height won't be a red flag in the coordinator's mind.

Drafting Manziel would mean the Vikings would get all that comes with him, though he seemed intent on distancing himself from the Johnny Football persona at the NFL scouting combine. They would also be passing on potential impact players at linebacker or cornerback. But Manziel would give them a dynamic young quarterback to build around -- and would certainly add a jolt of excitement to a fan base that hasn't had much of it at quarterback lately, save for two years with Brett Favre. All told, it's tough to see the Vikings passing on a chance to get a player like Manziel, should the opportunity present itself.