When it comes to backup quarterbacks, the best NFL teams can usually hope for is a player that gives them a chance to win when asked to fill in for a few games. Well, the Minnesota Vikings got that by signing former Texans and Rams QB Case Keenum.
Keenum won Los Angeles’s quarterback competition in training camp last year, beating out No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff. But after he struggled, throwing nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in nine starts, the Rams turned to their hopeful future franchise quarterback.
While he might not be fit to be a starting quarterback, he’s gone 9-7 as a starter since 2014 on teams that, similarly to the Vikings, had very good defenses.
So on the roster now, the Vikings have Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, Keenum and Taylor Heinicke, an undrafted free agent who has not yet seen NFL action.
It wouldn’t seem that there would be any more room at the inn for one more quarterback in the draft, but at the NFL Combine, GM Rick Spielman didn’t dismiss the idea of adding another QB to the mix.
“We haven’t as much, you look at that and maybe that trend changes a little bit,” Spielman said. “I know we were very excited about [Taylor] Heinicke and where he was coming. I didn’t anticipate, which is my fault, that he was going to put his foot through a door and miss the preseason. That’s another area we have to look at because he missed all that time in preseason and training camp and that’s probably the most valuable time for young quarterbacks. During the season it’s mostly running scout team. So that’s an area where we can definitely [look at].”
Plenty of more pressing needs will have to be addressed by the Vikings when it comes to the NFL Draft – and the list may have grown with news that Sharrif Floyd’s career is in jeopardy because of a nerve issue in his knee – but there is a case to add another young quarterback.
The Vikings situation under center is very murky at the moment. Bradford doesn’t have a contract past 2017, it’s unclear when/if Bridgewater will return, Keenum is a one-year solution at backup and Heinicke has barely seen the practice field.
A few years ago, the Seattle Seahawks appeared to have their quarterback situation set when they drafted Russell Wilson in the third round. They received terrible marks from draft graders. It also seemed pretty odd when Washington grabbed Kirk Cousins in the fourth round after selecting Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick. New England even spent a second-round pick on Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014 with Tom Brady under center.
All of those teams had some level of uncertainty at quarterback, as the Vikings do now.
The problem with drafting a QB for Minnesota, however, is that they probably wouldn’t want to use a third or fourth-round pick on one, but spending a late-round pick on a quarterback is usually the equivalent of setting the pick on fire. In the last 10 drafts, there is only one quarterback who has become a consistent starter that was picked in rounds 5-7, that’s Buffalo’s Tyrod Taylor.
So the Vikings will have to make a tough call: Spend a pick before the fifth round or pass on a quarterback, despite the possible upside of finding a diamond in the rough (or at very least, a solid future backup or trade piece).