Spielman: No 'clear cut' top QB in draft, would 'love' to trade No. 8
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Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman's propensity for draft-day trades is unwavering -- for now -- as he seeks new counsel in turning around the team's quarterback situation through May's NFL Draft.
Spielman held a press conference with local and national media that flocked to Indianapolis this week for the NFL Scouting Combine that kicked off on Thursday. Among other broad brushstrokes, Spielman reiterated his desire to trade down from their No. 8 pick because he said the incoming class is that deep.
"That [quarterback] decision is always going to fall on me. You need to keep turning the wheel until you find one you hit on. Are we going to force a quarterback at No. 8? We're going to take the best player," Spielman said. "I'd love to move down from the draft at No. 8.
"I have a little bit of a history moving up or down. If there's a guy I think we can get in the second, third or fourth round, if we feel we have enough draft picks to move up or down, which I hope we do, then we'll be aggressive to go up and get that guy."
Spielman also said again that he will lean heavily on first-year offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who along with his son and quarterbacks coach, Scott Turner, will manage the quarterback decision closely. Spielman said last week he would be meeting with every agent that represents the Vikings' 15 unrestricted free agents at the Combine, which includes veteran quarterback Matt Cassel.
"Christian Ponder is our only quarterback under contract right now," Spielman said. "This year [his] consistency and that next step forward didn't happen...Christian just hasn't been that consistent.
"Matt Cassel voided out of his contract, which we expected. We'll visit with his agent down here. We'll also look at other opportunities potentially in the UFA market, anyone who could potentially get cut or maybe on the trading block. And also focus heavily on this draft to get another young quarterback in our system as well and Norv will have a big impact on that."
Underclassmen like Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater have already been dubbed as locks as Top-10 picks and the Vikings may be longshots at getting either with the eighth pick. To Spielman, there's isn't a consensus pecking order.
"I do believe it's a deep draft class," Spielman said. "I don't think there's a clear cut No. 1 quarterback."
Quarterbacks, receivers and running backs workout on Sunday at LucasOil Stadium, but a bevy of top passers won't throw, or at least haven't publicly decided. Manziel bowed out earlier this week, Bridgewater isn't sure, Fresno State's Derek Carr won't participate in throwing drills and Alabama's A.J. McCarron hasn't publicly decided.
• Spielman expects budding receiver Cordarrelle Patterson 'to thrive' under Turner. Said Spielman: "Norv already put in 10 plays for [Patterson], that was the first thing he was doing when he was putting together the X's and O's part."
• Spielman reiterated to reporters in Indianapolis that he wishes to part ways with some Vikings already under contract. One glaring cap number is that of underachieving defensive tackle Letroy Guion. A restructuring is also possible, but the Vikings could clear his $4.3 million cap hit (per Spotrac.com) this offseason to make room for resigning unrestricted free agent and defensive tackle Fred Evans. However, the Vikings likely have room to do so without cutting Guion.
• With some depth at tight end in this draft, Spielman revealed that position is nowhere near the top of their draft board. Vikings tight end John Carlson recently told the Star Tribune that he intends to return to football after leaving open the possibility of retirement following his second season in three years ending on injured reserve.
"We have some good tight ends [in Minnesota], not really focused on that. There's some depth at that position, guys with potential character issues at that position, we have them all graded. But we're focused on some other areas of need for us," Spielman said.