In the fifth round of the 2008 NFL entry draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected USC quarterback John Booty. The selection offers the Vikings a long-term prospect, but one unlikely either to push Tarvaris Jackson this year or for the next several years, and raises the question of whether the Vikings will begin the season with three or four quarterbacks.
During the 2007 season, Booty completed 63 percent of his passes for 23 touchdowns and 10 interceptions with an average of 236 passing yards per game. Booty sustained 12 sacks in a ten-game, senior season interrupted by a hand injury.
For Vikings' fans living in Minnesota, those numbers ought to be familiar. Playing in a similarly balanced offense in 2006, though against arguably more formidable defenses, former Minnesota Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito completed 60 percent of his passes for 22 touchdowns and 9 interceptions with an average of 217 yards per game. Cupito was sacked 18 times during his senior season.
The sack total is a fairly telling number for both quarterbacks. Despite playing behind a well-regarded, if sometimes undersized offensive line, Cupito, at times, looked statuesque in a non-Davidian sense throughout his career in Minnesota. Booty, playing behind a much larger offensive line and with generally more potent offensive personnel, looked similarly stuck in the face of a pass-rush.
What the numbers suggest, the scouts generally have agreed upon regarding Booty; Booty has some touch on his pass, an adequate if not exceptional arm, and average mobility in the pocket. That augers well for the Vikings, if, in Booty, they are looking for a player that might catch onto the pro game in a few years.
But selecting a quarterback of Booty's caliber means that the Vikings likely have no intention of using Booty either this year or for several more years--barring an absolute, unresolvable disaster at the starting quarterback position. That means that in 2008, Tavaris Jackson will have to continue to improve and that Gus Frerotte will have to stay healthy and regain at least a semblance of his earlier form if the Vikings are to have success out of their quarterback--unless the team is counting on Brooks Bollinger to fill some role with the team.
That raises, too, the question of the plight of the Vikings' erstwhile, sometimes 2007 starter. With the addition of Booty and Frerotte, the Vikings have four quarterbacks on the roster. If the Vikings carry only three quarterbacks in 2008, that leaves Bollinger the likely odd-man out. And that would leave the Vikings with only Frerotte should Jackson either fail to perform or sustain an injury.
Attempting to transfer Booty to the practice squad likely would result in losing him to another team, thus leaving the Vikings in the same position as would they have been in had they not drafted him. And with few experienced quarterbacks of merit currently on the market, that could leave the Vikings facing a highly difficult decision either regarding the composition of their final quarterbacking corps or their overall roster composition.
Up Next: Dollars and Sense.