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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Vikings

By Ben Goessling

Earlier this month, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., stood firmly by his belief that the Minnesota Vikings needed to address their quarterback situation before doing anything else in the draft. He said the team needed to chart its future at the position more than it needed to fill holes on its defense in the first round.

"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," Kiper said.

In his fourth mock draft, Kiper still believes the Vikings will take a quarterback with the eighth overall pick, counting on the presence of Matt Cassel to help buy them time to develop their new signal-caller before putting him on the field.

That new quarterback, according to Kiper, will be Central Florida's Blake Bortles, whom Kiper has going to the Vikings as the second QB drafted. Cleveland will take Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel fourth overall in Kiper's latest mock, and Bortles will be there for the Vikings at No. 8.

There are rough edges in Bortles' game that could lead the Vikings to take a slower course of action with him, but he'd fit the profile of the tall pocket passer that offensive coordinator Norv Turner has had for most of his career. Kiper said he still prefers Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater to Bortles, but in the Vikings' offense, Bortles is probably a better fit, especially if the Vikings can clean up his mechanics and improve his ability to drive the ball when pass rushers are bearing down on him.

Bortles could likely benefit from a situation in which he'd be allowed to develop without the pressure of starting right away, and Cassel's presence should help provide that. In the end, the Vikings would have to be sold on Bortles' ability to become a top-end quarterback to take him over a defensive player who could help right away. That will likely be the determining factor in what they do with the No. 8 overall pick.