5 QBs the Minnesota Vikings Might Be Tempted to Draft to Back Up Ponder

Zeke Fuhrman@@mellamoelzekeAnalyst IIIFebruary 14, 2013

5 QBs the Minnesota Vikings Might Be Tempted to Draft to Back Up Ponder

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    2013 could be Christian Ponder's last shot. After showing signs of progress in 2012, the third-year quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings absolutely has to show progress in leaps and bounds next season if he wants to remain a starting quarterback in the NFL.

    One thing the Vikings need to do is to find somebody to compete with Joe Webb and McLeod Bethel-Thompson for a spot on the roster this coming season, either through free agency or the NFL draft. As poor as the free agent pool is this year, it might serve the Vikings' interest to get some (more) fresh blood in at quarterback.

    And if the Vikings end up dealing disgruntled wideout Percy Harvin for draft picks, the Vikings could absolutely use one to draft a quarterback.

    While there are names that could fill a backup roll behind Ponder (Jason Campbell, Matt Moore, Tarvaris Jackson among others), the Vikings could almost be better off by drafting somebody with big-time experience in the upcoming NFL draft.

    The Geno Smiths, Tyler Wilsons and Mike Glennons will all be gone after the Vikings are done loading up on young wideout and defensive talent. But, if one of these next players is still available in the later rounds, it would be very hard for the Vikings to pass.

Round 4: E.J. Manuel, Florida State

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    Height: 6'5", Weight: 234 lbs., Class: Senior

    Average Projected Round: 2 to 4

    Position Ranking:

    NFL.com: 7

    CBSsports.com: 6

    Draft Nasty.com: 5

    Collegiate Statistics:







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    E.J. Manuel was a projected third or fourth round pick in rankings last August, but his stock has risen (and will continue to rise) until the draft. The NFL Combine, which begins February 20, will only help. I've seen Manuel go as high as pick 35 to the Eagles in Round 2, and as low as pick 106 to the Saints in Round 4 in some mock drafts. If Manuel is still on the board at the end of the fourth round, it would be an absolute steal for the Vikings.

    As Ponder's successor at Florida State after the Vikings drafted him, Manuel had his first chance to start in 2011. After he saw the field in limited action for an injured Ponder his first two seasons at FSU, Manuel stepped up as the starter in 2011. His Seminoles finished the season ranked No. 23 after coming back from a 14-pont deficit to beat Notre Dame in the 2011 Champs Sports Bowl, 18-14. He finished his Seminole career with an ACC Championship, a 31-10 Orange Bowl victory over Northern Illinois and a number eight ranking in the AP Poll. His 68 percent completion percentage in 2012 was the best in the ACC and eighth best in the country.

    Manuel is a physically imposing passer, being a 230-pound quarterback. He has been praised for his leadership ability. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher ran a lot of his offensive plays from shotgun formation, in which Manuel excelled. He showed flashes of the velocity needed to stretch the field and to throw in tight spaces between defenders and on the sideline. He needs to work on his footing, including consistently using his feet to utilize his arm strength.

Round 5: Zac Dysert, Miami (OH)

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    Height: 6'3", Weight: 224 lbs., Class: Senior 

    Average Projected Round: 3 to 5

    Position Ranking:

    NFL.com: 2

    CBSsports.com: 9

    Draft Nasty.com: 9

    Collegiate Stats:

    Season Att-Comp Pct Yards TD INT Rush Att Rush Yards Avg TD
    2009 247-401 61.6 2611 12 16 149 258 1.7 5
    2010 222-343 64.7 2406 13 12 79 27 0.3 1
    2011 295-448 65.8 3513 23 11 125 115 0.9 4
    2012 302-408 62.9 3483 25 12 108 265 2.5 2
    Totals 1066-1672 63.8 12013 73 51 461 665 1.4 12

    Zac Dysert overtook Ben Roethlisberger as Miami Ohio's career passing leader despite playing under three head coaches and a combined five different positional coaches and offensive coordinators during his four years at Miami.

    Dysert ranks as one of the more intriguing second-tier signal-callers available in the 2013 draft. He is all over everybody's draft board. NFL.com ranks him as the second-best quarterback in the draft, while other sources have him as low as ninth.

    Dysert was a four-year starter for Miami and displays excellent leadership. He missed three games in high school with a broken finger on his throwing hand, so he asked the coaches to move him to linebacker so he could still play.

    Despite the changes in coaching, Dysert made steady progress as a passer over his career, watching his touchdown-to-interception ratio steadily improve each season, ending with a senior season in which he led the MAC in passing yards and touchdowns while only throwing 12 interceptions.

    Although Dysert's career numbers are impressive, the coaching turnovers and unreliable receivers put a damper on his numbers, which led to him being named to the All-MAC third team. Some analysts have Dysert low in the draft because of this, so his stock really has no where to go but up at the combine.

    He is a big, strong-armed passer. He stands tall in the pocket and has a nice delivery to get the ball out of his hand quickly, and certainly has the arm strength to make all of the throws a quarterback in the NFL needs to make. Although he's not a huge threat as a runner, he is able to scramble and take what the defense gives him. He has the ability to make throws from different arm angles and body positions (a la Matthew Stafford).

    His footwork needs some work, especially when Miami's offense switch to a shotgun formation to take pressure off the offensive line. He also needs to do a better job of seeing what the defense is doing pre-snap so he can make quick reads.

Round 6: Matt Scott, Arizona

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    Height: 6'3", Weight: 196 lbs., Class: Senior 

    Average Projected Round: 5 to 6

    Position Ranking:

    NFL.com: 10

    CBSsports.com: 10

    Draft Nasty.com: 17

    Collegiate Stats:

    Season GP-GS Comp-Att Pct. Yards TD INT Long Avg/G Rush Att Rush Yards Avg TD Long Avg/G
    2008  6-0  7-11  63.6  84  1  0  26  14.0  23  118  8.2  2  36  31.3
    2009  9-3  41-73  56.2  441  1  3  25  49.0  41  309  7.2  0  27  34.3
    2010  7-2  66-93  71.0  776  4  2  41  110.9  35  135  3.9  0  32  19.3
    2012  12-12  301-499  60.3  3620  27  14  63  301.7  113  506  4.5  6  24  42.2
    Totals    415-676  61.4  4921  33  19    129.5  212  1138  5.4  8    29.9

    After Matt Scott lost his starting spot last year to current Philadelphia Eagle Nick Foles in 2010, he redshirted the 2011 season with Foles at the helm. But he used 2012 to make a name for himself as an NFL prospect.

    Scott, as with Collin Klein, showed nice dual-threat ability a mobile quarterback. The senior completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,620 yards with 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He also averaged almost five yards per carry on 113 attempts.

    Physically, Scott has good height and arm strength for a quarterback. He will need to bulk up a little bit to withstand the physical beating an NFL quarterback takes. He is very accurate on the run, but will step up in the pocket when he needs to. He's agile enough to side-step defenders and has straight-line speed to pick up big gains in the open field.

    That being said, he is overly confident in his arm and throws into coverage ta little too often. His footwork is inconsistent, and he taps the ball as a timing mechanism before he releases his throw, which effects his release time.

    His strong arm and excellent mobility should interest teams that are interested in developing a new-age, dual-threat quarterback. The Vikings should be on that list.

Round 7: Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt

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    Height: 6'1", Weight: 212 lbs., Class: Senior 

    Average Projected Round: 5 to 7

    Position Ranking:

    NFL.com: N/A

    CBSsports.com: 11

    Draft Nasty.com: 11

    Collegiate Stats:

    Season Att-Comp Pct. Yards TD INT Rush Att Rush Yards Avg TD
    2011 108-216 50.0 1524 9 10 117 420 3.6 4
    2012 191-319 59.9 2539 15 5 91 71 0.8 2
    Totals 229-535 55.9 4063 24 15 208 491 2.4 6

    The younger brother of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Rodgers is a sleeper despite the superstar status of his big brother. Aaron was leaps and bound when he was considered the No. 1 overall pick out of California in 2005. While Aaron sat on the bench for three seasons in Green Bay, Jordan could be looking at the same situation if he makes an NFL roster for 2013.

    Rodgers transferred to Vandy out of a JUCO. He started off as the backup in 2010, but started a few games after an injury to Larry Smith in a loss to Georgia on October 15.

    Rodgers has a quality arm and has the ability to make plays with his legs. He is undersized for a quarterback. His mechanics aren't Tim Tebow or Klein bad, but he will need some work. While Rodgers will not lock onto a wide receiver, and does well with his progressions, he tends to struggle understanding where to throw the ball, finding solid windows and recognizing the defensive scheme. He is a project quarterback, but could compete with Bethel-Thompson for a roster spot.

Honorable Mention: Collin Klein, Kansas State

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    Height: 6'5", Weight: 226 lbs., Class: Senior

    Average Projected Round: 6 to undrafted free agent

    Position Ranking:

    NFL.com: 11

    CBSsports.com: 16

    Draft Nasty.com: 25

    Collegiate Stats:

    Season Comp-Att Yards Pct. TD INT Rush Att Rush Yards Avg TD
    2009 1-1 27 100.0 0 0 1 -8 -8.0 0
    2010 11-18 138 61.1 1 0 76 432 5.7 6
    2011 161-281 1918 57.3 13 6 317 1141 3.6 27
    2012 180-272 2490 66.2 15 7 194 890 4.6 22
    Total 354-572 4573 61.9 29 13 588 2455 4.0 55

    Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist, led the Kansas State Wildcats to their first BCS Bowl Game since 2004 with his dual-threat ability.

    He won the 2012 Johhny Unitas Golden Arm award, joining the elite class of past winners like Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Matt Ryan and Eli Manning. The quarterback position is evolving, and some teams are seeking a more mobile option at quarterback like Colin Kaepernick or Robert Griffin III. Klein fits the mold.

    However, while he does have great velocity on some of his throws, he'll need to work on his throwing mechanics (see Tebow) if he wants to succeed at the next level. He is a developmental prospect, but could come off the bench to give teams a different look. A downside is that he has nearly the same exact build as current backup Webb, and brings the same elements to the table as Webb does.

    Klein is an outstanding athlete with amazing power in his lower body. He gets good zip on the ball in the short passing game. He has excellent mobility in the pocket and is a good decision maker. Even though he has a golden arm, he can be very inaccurate at times. He has an awkward delivery, which will take a lot of coaching to fix. Teams may view him as a more valuable player at running back than quarterback.