Vikings use draft to look to future, except at QB
So, however this season unfolds, with Brett Favre in charge or without him, the Vikings have set themselves up for more uncertainty at the sport's most important position.
Tarvaris Jackson and Sage Rosenfels are still around, but they're still unproven options. Favre sure proved his worth last season, but if there's one matter he's never sure about it's his status. At some point, he'll have to retire.
For now, though, the Vikings won't let on if they are worried about finding a permanent solution. Head coach Brad Childress even joked at his news conference after the draft on Saturday night that he saw the car commercial in which Favre accepts a 2020 NFL MVP award trophy and figured the situation would be fine.
"Maybe it was just seeing a lot of tape lately. Might have been dreaming," Childress said, his face in deadpan mode. "The native thing in this is change. I think I said the other day, 'Whether the guy that is going to be the quarterback here is on our roster or is somebody that we're going to acquire just remains to be seen here.' It just keeps changing. I'll let you guys zero in on that and provide an opinion, but I'm going to stick by my dream."
Childress and Favre exchanged a couple of text messages during the draft, but football's 40-year-old passing king has not declared his intention for the 2010 season. Or 2011.
What's clear, however, is the Vikings weren't moved enough by his indecision to take a true quarterback over the weekend — even with opportunities to grab a high-profile prospect like Jimmy Clausen or Colt McCoy. They also passed on late-round sleepers like Jonathan Crompton and Tony Pike.
"We develop a quarterback board just like we develop every other position on our board," vice president for player personnel Rick Spielman said. "If there is a potential guy there that we feel is the right fit for what we want and what Brad wants and the coaches want to fit this offensive scheme, then we would pull the trigger just like we would with any other position."
Most of the football world is confident Favre will come back, but regardless of his plan for this fall a quarterback who came in the draft this spring would have been more of a long-term development project. Clearly, the Vikings weren't especially excited about this class of quarterbacks, and they refused to reach for one.
At other positions, they had more of a luxury — not filling immediate needs, but building for the future and shoring up their special teams units.
"You can't just be a one-dimensional guy when you only have 45 guys on the roster," Childress said.
If Favre comes back, the Vikings will essentially return their entire starting lineup from the NFC runner-up squad last season.
"We've built this roster up to the point where it's hard to say that five or six or seven draft picks are all going to make it," director of college scouting Scott Studwell said.
The Vikings are proud of their work in recent drafts. That, coupled with a series of effective big-money additions through free agency since Childress and Spielman arrived less than five months apart in 2006, has helped create a Super Bowl contender.
To stay there when veteran players from the current core move on or wear out, the Vikings followed the old best-player-available philosophy. Defensive end Everson Griffen, a fourth-round pick who slipped down from most projections, was a prime example.
With Jared Allen, Ray Edwards and backup Brian Robison, the Vikings don't have a need at that position. For now.
"We have a pretty strong roster right now with our front-liners. You're hoping some of these young guys, as you develop them, can eventually come in and step in," Spielman said.