Leslie Frazier raises possibility of trading up from No. 12 for a QB
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NEW ORLEANS -- Making clear his preference to pursue options in the NFL Draft and twice mentioning the possibility of trading up from No. 12, Leslie Frazier dropped the strongest hints yet that he hopes to find the Minnesota Vikings' franchise quarterback with his first pick as head coach.
"I think even if there were free agency, we might still look at quarterbacks (in the draft), unless there was a free-agent quarterback that had youth and you knew you were going to have him for a number of years," Frazier said early Tuesday morning during a roughly 1-hour conversation with reporters at the annual coaches' breakfast at the Roosevelt Hotel.
"With a veteran guy, we'd still look at drafting a guy, because we need to build around a young guy who is likely to (stick around). The only difference now is free agency (on hold), so you know that you have to find someone in the draft. The one thing you don't know is if the one guy you like is going to be there at 12, or if you're going to have to try to move up to try to get him, or what would you have to give up to get him?"
Frazier has spent significant time the past month studying a rookie class of quarterbacks headed by Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Auburn's Cam Newton. He'll be back on the road by Monday, continuing a tour of pro days, private workouts and social meetings aimed at determining what options the Vikings will have when the draft begins on April 28.
The team doesn't have a third-round pick and "ideally" would get their man in the first or perhaps second round, Frazier said. "If you're going to get a franchise-type guy that you can build around, he usually comes earlier than later -- the first or second round. It's an aberration to get a (New England quarterback) Tom Brady in the sixth round. That doesn't come around very, very often."
The Vikings reportedly have conducted a private workout with Washington's Jake Locker and are expected to spend extra time with Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, TCU's Andy Dalton and probably others, including Florida State's Christian Ponder and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.
Asked if he's committed to using the top pick on the position, Frazier said, "I can't say definitely, because if it's not the guy that we like, you don't want to say, 'OK, well, let's just do it anyway. Let's take a quarterback.' We've all seen teams take quarterbacks that don't work out, even if it's the No. 1 pick in the whole draft. So, you've got to do your homework and hope to get your guy."
The Vikings have had internal discussions about trades and potential free agents as well, but Frazier made clear the "ideal situation" is to find his quarterback through the draft. He addressed a number of quarterback possibilities and scenarios, including:
• Acquiring Kevin Kolb, whom the Philadelphia Eagles have placed on the trading block: "He's a good young quarterback. There's a reason that they had him slated as the No. 1 guy going into training camp and they made the trade letting Donovan (McNabb) move on. They saw some things in him they really liked, and I respect Andy (Reid) and their staff tremendously as you guys can imagine having worked there. So, you'd have to consider a guy like Kevin if he becomes available. He'll be part of the conversation as well if that were to occur.
• Acquiring an older veteran such as Seattle's Matt Hasselbeck, who is set to become a free agent, or Cincinnati's Carson Palmer, who has requested a trade, to be a stopgap while a rookie develops: "He would have to understand that, 'This is what your role is,'" Frazier said. "It would be up to us to explain that to get the right guy. Otherwise, it really splits your team and stunts the growth of that young quarterback."
• Giving a chance to Joe Webb, who started the final two games as a rookie last season: "Joe did some good things. I can't imagine a scenario where we wouldn't add a quarterback (in the draft) at some point. If it's not in the first or second ... then at some point we'd be drafting somebody for competition."
• Bringing back Brett Favre, whose second season as the Vikings starter was cut short by injuries: "I wouldn't be surprised" if someone calls the veteran, but it won't be Frazier.
• Passing on veterans altogether if they find their franchise quarterback in the draft: "That is open for discussion. One of the scenarios is if the right guy is there at 12, unless we move up, then you would maybe say, 'OK, that's the guy you want to build around.' No sense in bringing in a veteran guy who could stunt that guy's growth. If you thought you had a Joe Flacco type or a Matt Ryan type, why would you go in that direction?"
• Starting a rookie from Day 1: "If it's the right guy and you make the right decision, the tolerance level is fine, because you know in the long-term he's going to get you to where you want to go. So, you live with some things early on just knowing by December this guy's going to be so much better and then even in Year 2 he's going to be that much better."
Get the right quarterback in place, and Frazier feels the Vikings should contend for a playoff spot in 2011.
"Without question," Frazier said. "We're only a year removed from playing in the NFC Championship Game. Our guys know how to win in our league and our division, although our division is much improved. If we get things settled at quarterback, we have a chance."