We’ve all heard the speculation of the Minnesota Vikings possibly drafting a quarterback with their first selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, and we’re all pretty familiar with the top four quarterbacks on the board.
But there are a lot of hungry teams out there hoping to snatch up a quarterback out of that particular crop for themselves.
Auburn’s Cam Newton, Washington’s Jake Locker, Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, and Florida State’s Christian Ponder are currently the top four draft candidates, with Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet rounding out the top five.
After that, only TCU’s Andy Dalton and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick remain until you go way down the rankings to where a severely underrated quarterback from Iowa currently sits.
Meet Ricky Stanzi.
For the sake of argument, there is a very good chance that the Vikings could in fact pull the trigger on one of the aforementioned gunslingers, but in the off-chance they do not, there is still Stanzi to consider.
So what makes the kid so special? Why would the Vikings pull the trigger on someone so far down the board? Would he even fit the Vikings system?
The Vikings could wind up trying to settle other pressing issues with their first two selections, bypassing the first six quarterbacks in the draft. That sort of strategy would basically force them to draft QB by the time the fourth round comes rolling around.
At that point, it would be a choice between Stanzi and Delaware’s Pat Devlin who—might I add—hasn’t impressed many thus far.
Let’s take a quick look at Stanzi’s pros and cons:
- Ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 12th nationally in passing efficiency (157.63), setting an Iowa single-season record.
- Finished with a 26-9 record as starting quarterback, ranking second among Iowa quarterbacks in career wins.
- Threw at least one touchdown pass in 21 consecutive games to establish an Iowa record.
- Ranks fourth in career completions (542), third in career touchdown passes (56), passing yards (7,377), pass attempts (907), and total offense (7,373).
- The only quarterback to start three games and win three games Penn State Coach Joe Paterno.
- Only Iowa quarterback, and just third Big Ten quarterback, to start and win three bowl games and one of seven seniors named to 2010 Leadership Group.
- A strong arm quarterback who knows how to play under center and manage any given game.
- Considered a starter-in-the-making-type quarterback with all the right developmental tools.
- Efficient passer and excellent check down passer who knows how to get out of coverage trouble.
- Has been known for spotty inconsistency due to questionable passing decisions.
- Not starter-ready material which has “hurt” his overall draft stock.
- Won’t “wow” anyone with his physical skills, but makes up for it in intelligence.
- Needs to show he can acclimate to the pro level and cut down on interceptions.
- Needs to work on his mechanics to prevent “slowing” on his delivery.
Here’s the overall deal on Stanzi.
Prior to the 2010 season, many would’ve agreed that he was a late round flier at best who has failed to impress.
But his performance last year put most of that talk to rest, starting all 13 games at quarterback and completing 221 of 345 pass attempts for 3,004 yards and 25 touchdowns, with just six interceptions.
His most appealing talent is in his ability to protect the ball, move the chains, utilize the short passing game and take advantage of the opportunities deep when presented.
In the Vikings scheme, any one quarterback will have to utilize everything above, especially in a run first offense that also features single- and double-TE sets.
The other interesting aspect of Stanzi is his unusually mobile 6’4” 233 frame, which is always a plus in the pros.
The bottom line is if the Vikings find themselves kicking the tires on Stanzi, they may find a genuine mid-round steal that fits their system almost perfectly.
But the Vikings will need some sort of veteran arm, in an effort to help the kid deal with the growing pains of maturing at the pro level.
For Stanzi, however, he has the right tools for development and understands the rudimentary principles of the game. He is experienced enough to begin learning a system like Minnesota’s, and could easily become a starter in a year or two with the right development.
If he's selected in the fourth, Stanzi would be an absolute steal for a quarterback hungry team.