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Updated: February 15th, 2011 2:12pm
Spielman: Vikings won't reach for a quarterback with No. 12 pick

Spielman: Vikings won't reach for a quarterback with No. 12 pick

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EDEN PRARIE, Minn -- Rick Spielman said Tuesday the quarterback position remains the biggest question facing the Minnesota Vikings, but the team will take the best player available -- regardless of position -- with the 12th pick in April's NFL Draft.

"I understand the quarterback is something that you definitely have to look at," said Spielman, the Vikings' vice president of player personnel.

"But if there's a guy up there who's a potential MVP in the league at some other position, knowing that you have some depth behind you, we're still going to stick with the best player available at that slot."

With Brett Favre officially retired and the Tarvaris Jackson experiment likely over, the Vikings are in a transition period while they search for their first franchise quarterback since Daunte Culpepper was run out of town in 2005.

The draft seems like the logical destination to grab a quarterback of the future, but Spielman said during a sitdown with Twin Cities reporters the team is going to explore all of their options, including trades and free agency.

"There's so many different avenues you can go in and, as we put those pieces together, we'll kind of slowly bring that in," he said.

Spielman also made it clear the team plans to go forward with Joe Webb as a quarterback and has no plans to transition him back to a wide receiver, the position he was drafted as.

"I know we're very excited about some of the things that we've seen in Joe Webb and the potential he has, too," Spielman said. "From the arm strength, from the athletic ability and some of the positives that he's really shown through the last part of the season last year."

Even if the Vikings get the quarterback they covet in the draft -- whether it be at pick No. 12, or in later rounds -- questions still remain about how to handle his development and whether to bring in a veteran quarterback to serve as a stopgap.

Drafting a quarterback in the first round has turned into such a huge investment that more teams -- the New York Jets and Atlanta Falcons are examples -- are rolling their rookies out Week 1 and giving them a baptism-by-fire.

"I know the media and the fans, you take a quarterback high, they want to see him out there whether he's ready or not," Spielman said. "I think, again, that gets down to how ready you think he is."

Spielman cited the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers as a scenario where a young quarterback was allowed time to develop behind a proven veteran -- Vikings fans know all too well how that worked out --  but he admitted that the team may not have that luxury.

There are veteran quarterbacks on the market whether be it by trade or by free agency but Spielman said it would be a case-by-case basis on if would bring one in as a stopgap.

"If you do draft a quarterback early, more than likely you're saying that guy's going to eventually be your guy," he said. "Does a veteran fit that role or fit that characteristic? Is he willing to accept that?"

With the win-now mentality that dominates the NFL, the decision the team makes at quarterback will likely define the Leslie Frazier era, much as Jackson and Favre defined the Brad Childress era.

But Spielman is confident he and the coaching staff can target and develop the right guy.

"It will be something that is a collaborative effort," he said. "It is my job to make sure how the coaches feel about him, how the quarterback is going to fit into the scheme. (Offensive coordinator) Bill (Musgrave) has a very good reputation of developing young quarterbacks from what he did down there with Matt Ryan down there (in Atlanta) to what he did with (Matt) Schaub before he was traded out to Houston, to (quarterback coach) Craig Johnson who has come in and had a lot of success with Steve McNairs of the world when he was in Tennessee."

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