The 2013 version of the Minnesota Vikings deployed a quarterback carousel that was puzzling to say the least. Who started at the most important position in sports each week seemed to be arbitrary and hinted at a tug of war between former head coach Leslie Frazier and general manager Rick Spielman.
The "who's on first?" nature reached a peak in October, when the team started the just-signed Tampa Bay Buccaneers castoff Josh Freeman on Monday Night Football against the New York Giants. The results of that game were predictably horrific, Freeman throwing an astonishing 53 passes, with at least five of them looking like he wasn't blindfolded.
In hindsight it's pretty clear that Minnesota wanted to find out exactly what they had in third-year quarterback Christian Ponder. He was given every opportunity to make the job his, but never played well enough to stay on the field.
Veteran Matt Cassel took the reins down the stretch, and while he wasn't spectacular, the offense was clearly better with Cassel at the helm than with Ponder. While Cassel at least played with a veteran's calm, Ponder was skittish and seemed to regress from his play in 2012.
What became clear in evaluating the 2013 season was that the Vikings needed a quarterback for the future. Cassel is clearly better than Ponder, but he's not a star and you'd be remiss in building the future hopes of a franchise around him.
The Vikings needed to find a quarterback to build around in the 2014 draft. The problem was that there were at least six or seven other teams with the same need and exactly zero quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class who could be categorized as a sure thing.
When all was said and done at the 2014 draft, Minnesota ended up selecting Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater with the last pick in the first round. The Vikings swapped their second-round pick and an extra fourth-round pick, ostensibly to jump past Oakland and Houston, who they probably feared had their eyes on Bridgewater.
So the Vikings will head toward the 2014 season with three quarterbacks on their roster, all of who are at distinctly different points in their career.
While the Vikings might publicly say that they have an open competition at quarterback, the smart guess is that they'll enter the summer with Cassel the presumed starter, Bridgewater the backup who will be given every opportunity to prove he can start and Ponder as the third-stringer who hopes to prove he deserves a shot as a starteror at least a second-stringer somewhere in the league.
Here we'll break down the probable spots on the depth chart and analyze what each quarterback must do to improve his standing.