G.M. ANDREWS/Associated Press
Jimmy Garoppolo has been creeping up draft boards since the Senior Bowl.
By the time the Vikings make their selection at No. 8 overall in the first round (if they keep it), there's a strong possibility Johnny Manziel, Teddy Bridgewater and Blake Bortles are all gone.
There's an outside chance that Derek Carr would be off the board as well, and even if he is, there are many out there who think he'd be a poor No. 8 pick (plenty of smart people who think he'd be a great pick, too).
The Vikings, for all we know, may not want to take a quarterback at No. 8. They may want to address a porous defense with the selection.
And as the Seattle Seahawks (Russell Wilson, third round), San Francisco 49ers (Colin Kaepernick, second round), Cincinnati Bengals (Andy Dalton, second round), Dallas Cowboys (Tony Romo, undrafted free agent) and New England Patriots (Tom Brady, sixth round) have shown, teams need not take a quarterback in the first round to be in the playoff hunt on a yearly basis.
So, the Vikings should be prepared to do their homework on the quarterbacks pegged to go after the first round.
The top four names that come to mind are: Eastern Illinois' Jimmy Garoppolo, Alabama's AJ McCarron, Georgia's Aaron Murray and LSU's Zach Mettenberger.
Mettenberger and Murray are recovering from torn ACLs, so it's unlikely Minnesota would learn too much about either at the combine other than to get updates on their recoveries.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller ranks Garoppolo as the fifth-best quarterback (No. 56 overall prospect), Mettenberger the sixth (No. 87 overall), McCarron the seventh (No. 101 overall) and Murray the 10th best (No. 150 overall).
Minnesota has plenty of defensive holes to fill (more discussion on that later), and if it believes one of those four could be a diamond in the rough, then the organization could benefit from passing on a quarterback in the first round.