For the next several weeks, I will be breaking down the Viking’s roster, evaluating the players and letting you know what to expect from each position.
By Jordan Wright
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write me at jwright3030@ gmail.com, follow me on Twitter @SkolJWright or find me on Facebook at Jordan Wright.
For the first positional breakdown, I will be focusing on the quarterbacks. It has been awhile since the Vikings haven’t had a question mark at arguably the most important position in football. Currently, the depth chart goes: Teddy Bridgewater, Shaun Hill, Mike Kafka and Taylor Heinicke. Most teams keep three quarterbacks on the roster, and with Bridgewater and Hill set as the starter and backup, it looks like Kafka and Heinicke will be battling for the last spot in this group. So what should we expect out of this group? Keep reading and you’ll find out!
Teddy Bridgewater returns as the unquestioned starter, and will be looking to improve on his outstanding rookie season. Last season in 13 games (12 starts), Teddy threw for 2,919 yards, 14 touchdowns and 12 interceptions for a QB rating of 85.2, while also running for 209 yards and a touchdown. While the numbers were not incredible, they were solid. But stats only tell half the story. Last year, Teddy showed poise, accuracy and intelligence that is usually reserved for the elite quarterbacks in the league. Most draft analysts had Bridgewater as the best quarterback in the draft and possible number one overall draft pick, and he certainly proved them correct. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Teddy led the league in completion percentage while under pressure. With a full offseason to prepare, Bridgewater should be able to improve upon his rookie season and fully integrate himself into the conversation of top quarterbacks in the league.
Shaun Hill was signed this offseason after Matt Cassel was traded to Buffalo. He is 35 years old and is on his fifth team in 13 seasons after being drafted by Minnesota in the 2002 draft. Shaun was in St. Louis last year and played in nine games, throwing for 1,657 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions for a QB rating of 83.9. Shaun has been a backup in the league, but he has been forced into a starting role multiple times during his career and he performed admirably. Shaun is the perfect quarterback for the Vikings because he understands he is here to help Teddy’s progression and step in at a moment’s notice if needed.
Mike Kafka is a fourth year pro who was drafted by Philadelphia in 2010, but has yet to see any significant snaps in the NFL. In fact, Kafka has only thrown 16 passes in the NFL for 107 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike Kafka was drafted out of Northwestern but didn’t play much until his senior season. In his senior season, Kafka led Northwestern to the Outback Bowl where he almost had a great upset against Auburn, losing in overtime after throwing for 532 yards and four touchdowns. At this point in his career Mike is simply a project for Norv Turner, but he does have good athleticism and could develop into a decent backup quarterback in the NFL.
Taylor Heinicke is listed fourth on the depth chart and I believe that is where he will stay, earning a spot on the practice squad after the preseason is over. Taylor went undrafted out of Old Dominion, even though he was the Walter Payton Award winner in 2012 (which is given to the best college player at the FCS level). Heinicke is small for an NFL quarterback standing at only 6’1”. He is good at reading the field and making the short to intermediate throws but he does not possess an elite arm and has difficulties with accuracy on the deep ball. Taylor should make it to the practice squad but I don’t see him progressing much farther than that.
Be sure to check out next week’s column where I’ll be breaking down the running backs!