Unlike the Jaguars and Browns, the Minnesota Vikings have left the door wide open—at least publicly—for Teddy Bridgewater, the No. 32 overall pick, to seize the team’s starting quarterback job this summer.
"I want to give everybody an opportunity and make sure that it's a legitimate opportunity for all of them," Minnesota coach Mike Zimmer said of the Vikings quarterback competition during mandatory minicamp in June, according to USA Today's Tom Pelissero.
Still, for Bridgewater, as it will be for Bortles and Manziel, he will have to beat out a favored veteran incumbent to climb the depth chart. Matt Cassel, who started six games for the Vikings in 2013, took “the lion's share of first-string reps in the portions of offseason practices open to reporters,” according to Pelissero.
Christian Ponder is also in the mix, but the Vikings were far more successful when Cassel led the way last season. Cassel saw playing time in all five of Minnesota’s wins and had an 81.6 quarterback rating, while Ponder had a 2-6-1 record as a starter and a 77.9 quarterback rating.
Despite Cassel’s moderate success, Bridgewater should be considered a real factor in the competition to start. The Louisville product is the most polished pocket passer among this year’s rookie class and should have the shortest learning curve.
The Minnesota coaching staff has not yet promulgated the Vikings starting quarterback for Week 1, but Bridgewater has already been praised on numerous occasions. During an appearance on KFAN FM 100.3 earlier this month, Vikings offensive coordinator Norv Turner said Bridgewater has “been really, really impressive and a lot further along than I expected him to be,” according to Mike Wobschall of Vikings.com.
Bridgewater was mixed in with the starters at times during spring workouts, and those repetitions should only increase as he gains experience. If Bridgewater continues to shine in training camp and the preseason, there’s nothing that should stop the Vikings from playing him out of the gate.
Minnesota can only get so far with Cassel or Ponder under center. If Bridgewater starts from the get-go and hits his stride by midseason, a star-studded offense headlined by running back Adrian Peterson and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson could become one of the most dynamic in the league.