COMMENTARY | The fact that the Minnesota Vikings are still alive for a playoff spot says a lot more about the NFC Central than it does about the Minnesota Vikings. But any talks of the playoffs should come to an end soon if things play out as expected and the Vikings can get back to more pressing needs, such as finding a quarterback.
The list of potential candidates got a bit smaller on Tuesday, as Oregon's Marcus Mariota declared he would stay in school another year. His decision probably had more to do with a few flaws in his game coming to light over the past month than it did devout loyalty to the Quack Attack.
Still, Mariota was a bit more polished than somebody like Clemson's Taj Boyd, who has some definite rough edges to go along with plenty of potential and a cannon for an arm.
Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater is the crown jewel of this year's quarterback class and will likely be gone by the time the Vikings hit the podium, but players such as Fresno State's Derek Carr, UCLA's Brett Hundley and Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel may very well be available when it's the Vikings turn to draft.
All four quarterbacks, even Bridgewater, have question marks and the teams that draft them could just as easily end up with the next Tim Tebow or Jamarcus Russell as they do a quality starter.
A second tier of quarterbacks that includes the likes Alabama's AJ McCarran and Central Florida's Blake Bortles should be available in the second round, while the ACL injuries to Georgia's Aaron Murray and LSU's Zach Mettenberger are likely to knock them down the charts.
Despite all the talk about Minnesota's quarterback woes, the Vikings should not draft a quarterback with their first pick, particularly if the likes of UCLA's Anthony Barr or South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney are available.
If the Vikings were able to win two of the games that they gave away in the final minute, the fans would still be complaining about Christian Ponder--and deservedly so--but the playoff talk would at least be legitimate. That falls squarely on the defense, which is where the team needs to focus with its first pick.
The Vikings panicked a bit in 2011 when three quarterbacks were taken in the first 11 picks and made a bit of a reach for Ponder with the No. 12 selection. It's a mistake that they can't repeat again.
The Vikings only need to look at the San Francisco 49ers, who also wanted a quarterback in 2011, but took Aldon Smith over Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert with their first round choice and picked up Colin Kaepernick in the second round. I'm sure they're quite happy with how that's worked out.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the Minnesota Vikings since the 1970s.
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