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  1. #1
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    QBs sure to create draft drama

    [size=18px]QBs sure to create draft drama[/size]
    [size=18px]Vikings unlikely to get a shot at one of top three quarterbacks[/size]
    BY SEAN JENSEN
    Pioneer Press

    Draft analysts Mel Kiper of ESPN and Mike Mayock of the NFL Network have differing opinions on who is the cream of this year's quarterback crop.

    Kiper says Matt Leinart's intelligence, accuracy and unflappable demeanor make the former Southern California star the top prospect, while Mayock says Jay Cutler of Vanderbilt is the choice because of his arm strength, toughness and untapped potential.

    But they agree on one key point: There's a drastic drop-off after Leinart, Cutler and Vince Young of Texas.

    "You've got three potential franchise quarterbacks who all should go in that top 10," Mayock said.

    That's a discouraging forecast for the Vikings, a team in the market for a young quarterback who can apprentice under veteran Brad Johnson.

    This month, the Vikings have been at the epicenter of quarterback conversations. They brought in Young and Cutler for visits at Winter Park, and despite public denials, there has been speculation that they are among the teams interested in trading for Atlanta Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub.

    The drama concludes Saturday, on the first day of the NFL draft. The question is: how, and at what cost?

    By trading quarterback Daunte Culpepper and opting not to match the offer sheet from the Seattle Seahawks for receiver Nate Burleson, the Vikings added second- and third-round picks. As a result, with a league-high five picks among the top 95 selections, the Vikings have multiple options.

    They could keep all their picks and take advantage of a rookie class that is universally heralded as deep and talented by selecting a second-tier quarterback in the second or third round. They also could package picks and trade for Schaub or move up six or seven slots in the draft to get Cutler or Young, if either falls that far.

    The cost for Schaub is believed to be multiple picks because the Falcons rebuffed the New York Jets' proposal of the 15th overall pick for the former University of Virginia star. There are indications that the price for the Vikings would be the No. 17 pick and a selection in a later round, or perhaps a second-round and a third-round pick.

    While Aaron Rodgers plummeted to 24th last year, neither Young nor Cutler are expected to repeat such a fall this year.

    The Baltimore Ravens select 13th, and Eric DeCosta said his team does not have a realistic chance at either player.

    "First of all, the chances that both guys are there (at the 13th pick) is virtually nonexistent," said DeCosta, the Ravens' director of college scouting. "The chances that one of those guys would be there is very, very slight. If that were to happen, I would imagine the phones would be ringing pretty steadily."

    In other words, DeCosta would expect to hear from teams wanting to move up. The price to move up six or seven slots could be a team's picks in the first, second and fourth or fifth rounds, according to one AFC personnel director who asked not to be identified so he wouldn't violate league tampering rules.

    If the price of moving up in the first round is too steep, the Vikings would look to the next crop, which isn't nearly as star-studded.

    Kellen Clemens of Oregon couldn't help himself last season because of a broken ankle in late October. But in eight games, he completed 185 of 289 passes (64 percent) for 2,406 yards with 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions, and he shows a knack for running a West Coast-style offense. Brodie Croyle of Alabama has a strong arm, but his accuracy was questionable at times, and he was dogged by durability concerns.

    "Kellen Clemens is primarily a shotgun thrower, very accurate with a quick release," DeCosta said. "He's a very smart guy, too."

    Clemens and Croyle are projected as second-round picks. Charlie Whitehurst of Clemson is considered the next best prospect, and Mayock likes his potential.

    "There's a medical issue on him with his shoulder, but he's a big, good-looking, prototype drop-back passer that can throw the heck out of the ball," Mayock said. "(But) Charlie's presence is not the same as Vince, Matt or Cutler. He doesn't have the same moxie. There are questions around the league about that."

    Tarvaris Jackson of Alabama State, Omar Jacobs of Bowling Green and Bruce Gradkowski of Toledo also are possibilities.

    Asked if he belongs with Young, Leinart and Cutler, Jackson said, "I know I belong. Those guys are good. I actually worked out with Jay Cutler in Orlando, and I felt like I belong right here with him. They got a little more exposure."

    But who is the best?

    Mayock said Cutler performed well in college, despite playing behind an inferior offensive line with inferior offensive weapons.

    "I don't take anything away from Leinart or Vince Young, who are very special in different ways," said Mayock, who last year predicted Rodgers' precipitous drop. "But I think four years from now, you're going to look back and see that this kid (Cutler) is the best of the three."

    Kiper, though, ranks Cutler a "distant third" to Leinart and Young.

    "Everyone is making excuses for Cutler," Kiper said. "This is a quarterback who couldn't beat Middle Tennessee State last year. He's never had a winning record, and he never dealt with pressure, because there was no expectation. No one worried about Vanderbilt.

    "He was never in a position Leinart and Young were in," Kiper said, "where they were on the big stage each and every week. Cutler has had a free ride."
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    Re: QBs sure to create draft drama

    Kiper, though, ranks Cutler a "distant third" to Leinart and Young.

    "Everyone is making excuses for Cutler," Kiper said. "This is a quarterback who couldn't beat Middle Tennessee State last year. He's never had a winning record, and he never dealt with pressure, because there was no expectation. No one worried about Vanderbilt.

    "He was never in a position Leinart and Young were in," Kiper said, "where they were on the big stage each and every week. Cutler has had a free ride."
    That sume up my opinion of Cutler perfectly. Still he is a good QB who can be developed, just like Whitehurst, Clemens, or Jacobs. If we sign Edwards he is the guy to go for. I doubt that will happen though. I would love Cutler just because its exciting to see your college QB play for our pro team, so I'm heavily biased.
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