This week, we start to break down the Minnesota Vikings’ roster.
By Jordan Wright
We’ll be looking at each position group and attempting to break down the depth chart. This ten part series will lead us right into preseason!
The first position we’ll be evaluating is the most important one on the team. Strong quarterback play can elevate a team and put them into contention for the Lombardi trophy, while poor quarterback play can drag a team down and put them into contention for the first overall draft pick.
Last season, Teddy Bridgewater led the Vikings to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth. Bridgewater started all 16 games of the regular season, completing 292 of 447 passes (65.3 percent, 10th in the league) for 3,231 yards (22nd), 14 touchdowns (26th) and nine interceptions (eighth in the league, minimum 300 pass attempts). His quarterback rating was 62.71, good for 13th in the league.
Just taking a look at the stats, it would appear Bridgewater had a mediocre year. In today’s NFL, with millions of people playing fantasy football, a quarterback is considered a failure if he doesn’t thrown for 5,000 yards and 30 touchdowns. However, all the stats listed above leave out one important number: 11. That’s how many wins the Vikings had last season, and the only stat that truly matters.
Shaun Hill was Teddy’s backup last season. Lucky for us, he only played 28 total snaps and only threw seven passes (completing two). Hill is 36 years old, but he provides a veteran presence on the practice field and has the ability to step in and play if Teddy were to miss any time.
Taylor Heinicke is the third string quarterback, and is entering his second season with the team. A long shot to make the team last year, Heinicke was able to impress the coaching staff enough to keep him on the squad.
Joel Stave, an undrafted rookie quarterback from Wisconsin, will be Heinicke’s main competition for the third string quarterback position. Stave is the winningest quarterback to ever play at Wisconsin, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the NFL. Playing in a pro-style offense and possessing an NFL body (6’5”, 236 pounds), Stave appears at first glance to be tailor made for the professional level. However, he has issues with pocket presence and accuracy, as evidenced by his sub-60% accuracy percentage in college. It’s rare for a college quarterback to significantly improve his accuracy in the pros, but here’s to hoping.
Starter: Teddy Bridgewater
There is no doubt Bridgewater will be under center to begin the 2016 NFL season (barring injury, knock on wood). Teddy will look to improve in his third season in the NFL, and a revamped offensive line will be the key to his development. Add in a shiny new receiver who was drafted in the first round (Laquon Treadwell), and Teddy will be ready to silence his doubters.
Backup: Shaun Hill
I don’t foresee either Heinicke or Stave being able to surpass Shaun Hill on the depth chart. Hill may not have much upside, but the veteran leadership he brings to the Vikings can’t be measured.
On the bubble: Taylor Heinicke and Joel Stave
Heinicke has the inside track to be the Vikings third quarterback, and if he can show the coaching staff enough that they’d trust him in a live game situation, there is a slight chance he can over take Hill as the primary backup. Stave has potential and seems to be a perfect candidate for the practice squad. The only concern is another team will covet him and claim him off waivers.
Next week we will be taking a look at the running back position. If you have anything specific you’d like to know about them, or if you have any comments or questions about the quarterbacks, reach out to me. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook: facebook.com/ skoljwright, or Twitter: @ skoljwright