Most Minnesota Vikings' observers, myself included as I noted last week, agree that the team needs to focus on fixing a few key defensive issues in April’s NFL Draft.
But it’s no fun speculating that the Vikings are going to take some boring defensive tackle in the first round. I’ll leave that to the actual draft analysts.
Instead, I’m going to make a case for the one guy I’m pretty sure the Vikings won’t take. The one guy that would probably cause the Internet to explode with hate mail.
There’s no doubt that the Vikings will need a new quarterback in the next few years.
I’m making a case for Tim Tebow.
1. They Need a Mobile QB
As the season wound down, Brett Favre learned very quickly that the Vikings' pass defense has a tendency to get awfully lazy at the most inopportune times.
It’s not that they give up a ton of sacks, but the Vikings' line is slow. Loadholt, Herrera, and Sullivan have room to grow, but McKinney and Hutchinson have passed their peak.
In the time between the right side of the line’s growth and the left side’s deterioration, the Vikings need a quarterback who can avoid getting killed, either by getting rid of the ball quickly or who can roll their way out of pressure.
Tebow’s release isn’t fast or good enough to be the former, but he’s certainly fast enough to do the latter.
McKinney and Hutchinson would hate the amount of back-end protection they’d have to do, but the fact is a guy like Tebow would buy time for them to get back into their protections when they’re too slow off the snap, which is something neither Favre nor Tarvaris Jackson could really do.
Offensively, it’s not a perfect fit, but for the time being, it’s one that makes perfect sense.
2. He Would Help Build a Stadium
This should, perhaps, be at the top of the Wilf's reasons for wanting him to be drafted. If what they want is to build a new stadium in Minnesota, Tebow would help build it.
I don’t mean he’d literally go out and pour concrete (well, maybe he would), but in terms of PR and media attention, there’s no bigger player in the draft.
There’s no such thing as too much good press for a team, and while the Vikings have a lot of really good guys, there’s nobody that really galvanizes the community like Drew Brees does in New Orleans or LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego.
A lot of people ride Tim Tebow for his “goody-two-shoes” reputation, but even if he never turns out to be a great professional player, there’s no doubt he would provide a boost to the team’s image in the Twin Cities during the next few legislative sessions.
3. He Already Knows Percy Harvin
It’s probably the most obvious point, but one that bears notice. Tebow was Harvin’s college quarterback and the two complimented each other quite well at Florida.
Looking at it from Harvin’s perspective, it would be a great move. After all, the drop from Brett Favre to Tebow, Tarvaris Jackson, or Sage Rosenfels is precipitous, but Harvin is at least comfortable and familiar with Tebow.
And it makes sense for Tebow, too, to come in and already be familiar with one of the team’s top offensive weapons. He wouldn’t have to build chemistry with Harvin, so that time could be allocated to learning the ins and outs of Sidney Rice, Visanthe Shiancoe, and Adrian Peterson.
So let Harvin spend a year, possibly two, learning from a Hall of Famer like Favre, and then go back and apply the new tricks he’s learned with a quarterback he’s actually comfortable with.
4. You Can Afford to Reach at Pick 30
While we’re supposed to pretend that every pick in the draft is important, the fact of the matter is that by pick 25 or so, all the “sure thing” prospects are off the board.
Sure, there are a few cases where a superstar slips all the way down to 30, but there are just as many cases where a guy from the fifth round or one who goes undrafted turns out to be the best guy in the draft.
Essentially, the difference between a defensive tackle at pick 30 and one at pick 60 isn’t going to be huge. They’re both going to be good players with a significant enough flaw that every other team that needs a tackle passed on them.
So at that point, why not take a gamble on a player who has the potential to make an impact like Tebow, as tenuous as that might be. It’s pretty much assured that he won’t fall past Jacksonville in the second round, so if you’re going to take him, you pretty much have to take him here.
If he succeeds, the Vikings made a great move not letting him fall out of the first round. If he fails, it’s a bust, but there’s not much chance you’ll be able to point to a guy drafted in picks 31-59 and say that he would’ve been a much better selection. There’s just not that much talent disparity.
5. He’s an Upgrade over Other Potential Options
Assuming for a moment, and this is a big stretch so bear with me, that Brett Favre has finally decided to retire and that Donovan McNabb is content playing out his contract in Philadelphia. Who starts for the Vikings next year?
We’ve seen what Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels have to offer, and it’s not exactly material befitting a Super Bowl run. The potential trades and free agents list is either old (Matt Hasselbeck, Mark Bulger), bad (Dante Culpepper, Brodie Croyle), or injured (Chad Pennington).
Tebow might not set your world afire with his arm, but it’s hard not to see him as an upgrade over any of those potential options. He was a very capable college player and I think he could make a lot of great moves with his feet in a backfield with Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin. A sort of constant wildcat, if you will.
Sure, you can hope Tarvaris Jackson learned from the tutelage of Brett Favre, but if not, then you’ve gone another full season without developing a long-term solution at quarterback. If they’re hell bent on seeing Jackson in action, I’d much rather have another guy on the bench ready to step in, and I don’t mean Rex Grossman or Brian St. Pierre.
Ultimately, I don’t think the Vikings should draft Tim Tebow. They’ve got too many other pressing needs without adding a question mark to the locker room.
But there are a lot of cases to be made for putting another playmaker on the bench, and while Tebow had a few awful performances, including recently at the Senior Bowl, the guy has talent and character and is probably worth the risk for some.