You are the 2017-18 Minnesota Vikings. What do you do when your starting quarterback goes down with a season ending injury? You put in the back-up quarterback, of course. Now what do you do when that back-up quarterback goes down with an injury? You plug the leak in the dam that is ready to explode. You cross your fingers and put in the back-up’s back-up. The guy on the roster who is rarely seen in the game or who you simply forgot was on the roster.
This is the kind of thing that would cripple the season for any franchise. Yet, the Vikings story had an unlikely hero in a third string by the name of:
This is a guy who, before his magical 11-3 season with the Vikings, had a dismal record of 9-15 when he played for both the Texans and Rams. In 2016 with the Rams, Keenum threw for a career high in yards (2,201), touchdowns (9), and interceptions (11), with a record of 4-5. To compare, even Blake Bortles, with a 3-13 Jacksonville team, ended up having more yards (3,905) and touchdowns (23).
What does any of that have to do with the Vikings you ask? With free agency and the draft coming up, one is to wonder if the Vickings should draft a quarterback or an offensive lineman?
Currently each of the three quarterbacks on the Vikings roster; Sam Bradford, Teddy Bridgewater, and Keenum are to be free agents. They could have easily tagged Keenum, signed Mark Sanchez and could draft a QB. Keenum’s performance last season and his current non-injured status would make sense for the Vikings to retain him. Mark Sanchez is on a quest to play for as many teams as possible or to simply collect jerseys, either one works for him. Sanchez also has a history of working well with young quarterbacks so then the Vikings can draft a new quarterback and still have help molding them.
Surely, with the Vikings picking late in the first round of the draft none of those well known guys; Darnold, Rosen, Mayfield, Allen, Rudolph, Jackson will be available. That may be true but quit calling me Shirley. Now, there is always the possibility of Lamar Jackson falling, though unlikely. So an options must be elsewhere within the position.
Mike White: who is a quarterback out of Western Kentucky (go Hilltoppers) could be an option. In 23 games he threw for 7,015 yards, 51 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions at a completion percentage of 66.2%. However, scouting reports say to beware of his concrete feet as he was sacked 46 times and had 17 fumbles in those same 23 games.
Luke Falk: He played for Mike Leach and the Washington State Cougars. In 2017, Falk started 13 times and had a completion rate of 66.9%; throwing 3,593 yards, 30 touchdowns, and having 13 interceptions. Despite his size, 6’4″ & 225 lbs, scouts are concerned about his arm strength and waiting too long to throw.
In 2016, the Vikings offensive line was viewed as a weak point and ranked 29th in the NFL. At the time the offensive line was riddled with so many injuries that the offense as a whole was actually ranked 23rd in the NFL. In 2017, the Vikings O-Line had a much better season and ranked 6th in the NFL with the offense ranking around 10th. The offensive line went from 29th to 6th? That’s a pretty damn good jump.
Connor Williams: An offensive tackle from the University of Texas. Scouts like his hand and footwork but are concerned that he may get too ‘straight-legged’ and bounce back into a pocket amidst a bull rush.
Will Hernandez: A guard from the University of Texas at El Paso. Scouts say he is agile, flexible and has impressive natural movement for his size. However, there is a concern that he may be a bit undersized for the position, but work ethic may cover that up.
Billy Price: A guard/center from THE Ohio State University. This is a guy who played defense in high school, but college coaches felt he was TOO meticulous and moved him to the offensive side. Scouts say he is strong, explosive, has good hands, and redirects defenders well. However, he has shown to be impatient and he tends to look for shade defenders down field, thus causing him to over set and lose balance.
In the end, the draft is always a trying time with lots of stress and full of ‘what if’ scenarios. This is a time of taking chances, seeing who is available, picking the right player, and/or hoping that free agent signs. It all starts at the quarterback position in Minnesota. I can hear Vikings management calling out from the top of the US Bank Stadium… “Keenum, come back to us! We made you a muffin!”