Friday, April 29, 2011

Spielman and Frazier Add Fuel to the Draft Fire

With the seventh overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, the Minnesota Vikings selected University of South Carolina wide-receiver Troy Williamson. Entering the draft, the Vikings' draft wonks insisted that their draft decisions would not be motivated by any desire to replace the recently traded wide-receiver, Randy Moss. They insisted as much in even stronger terms after selecting Williamson. While most fans scoffed at the Vikings' claims--both before and after the draft--many, knowing too little about Williamson, deferred to those drafting as "knowing more than us."

Though the Vikings entered this year's draft clear that they would consider a top quarterback if one were to fall in their laps, when the team subsequently selected the fifth or sixth best quarterback in a thoroughly mediocre class for quarterbacks, most fans rightfully balked, questioning whether the Vikings took a quarterback simply to take a quarterback.

Never one to allay fan fears, Vikings' Director of Pro Personnel, Rick Spielman, commented that the Vikings "had to swing sometime" and absurdly stated that "nobody knows what quarterbacks will be in next year's draft." Setting aside Spielman's clearly erroneous claim, his suggestion that the Vikings swung this year in selecting Christian Ponder certainly smacks of taking a risk at a position in the draft in which risk-taking to fill a need was not required.

Vikings' head coach Leslie Frazier did nothing to calm concerns over the Vikings' waste of a high pick or Spielman's oblivious and disconcerting statements, contending that he really liked what he saw from Ponder at the Senior Bowl and at workouts and that, while he did not feel that great about the quarterback spot before the first round of this year's draft, he is excited about the Vikings' options now?

Clearly, Frazier is cut from the Mike Tice mold of being willing to be dazzled by workouts, even when the workouts suggest far greater ability than is warranted from a player's greater body of work. As Tice was wowed by Troy Williamson's speed in workouts, Frazier was wowed by Ponder's workouts.

More disconcerting, however, was Frazier's suggestion that he went from discouraged to excited about the Vikings' 2011 quarterback position with the selection of Ponder--a claim he made in conjunction with the statement that he planned to keep Joe Webb at quarterback.

Never mind that Webb remains the Vikings' best option at quarterback. Barring a grievous injury to Ponder, Ponder's selection makes Webb virtually irrelevant at the position. By drafting Ponder, the Vikings have committed to one of two things. Either Ponder is the starter in 2011 or a veteran is the starter and Ponder is the understudy. Webb is a no longer part of the equation--again, despite the fact that he is a better prospect than Ponder.

Up Next: More Rounds.

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