The Minnesota Vikings have improved themselves in every year of the Brad Childress era, despite an alleged dearth of talent at the quarterback position. Many people have lamented the fact that, during his time as the Vikings head coach, Childress hasn't been able to develop a "franchise quarterback," and has instead gone with the inconsistent Tarvaris Jackson, a smattering of veteran "talent," and now has courted Brett Favre for two straight off-seasons.
But the recent situation with Matt Leinart. . .you know, one of the alleged "franchise quarterbacks" that had the talent to take the Vikings to the promised land. . .has left me to wonder something. Throughout the Childress era, which of these "franchise quarterbacks" was he supposed to take and turn into the face of the franchise?
Chilly's first draft was the draft before the 2006 season, when he replaced Mike Tice as the Minnesota head coach. We're going to take a look at the quarterbacks that were taken in the first three rounds of each draft since then, and how they compare to the guys that the Vikings drafted.
2006 Draft - The Vikings finished 9-7 in the year going into this one, rattling off an impressive five-game winning streak after Daunte Culpepper's knee injury and getting back into the playoff race. The Vikings had four picks in the first two rounds that year, which netted them LB Chad Greenway (number 17 overall), CB Cedric Griffin, C Ryan Cook, and QB Tarvaris Jackson. They also took some guy named Ray Edwards in Round Four.
Three quarterbacks went in the first 11 picks of this draft. . .Vince Young of Texas, Matt Leinart of USC, and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler. The Vikings never really had a shot at Young, and I really don't have a problem with that. We've seen over the past few days how well Leinart has worked out in Arizona. . .and, at the risk of sounding picky, I really don't think that Cutler is terribly special, either. (Huh, huh. . ."picky". . .see what I did there?)
In the middle of Round Two, the Jets took Kellen Clemens, whose most important resume bullet is how many guys have been given the starting job over him. Once Chad Pennington left New York, the Jets were so impressed with Clemens that they swung a trade for Brett Favre. When Favre left, they were so impressed with Clemens that they gave up a first-round pick and three players for the right to draft Mark Sanchez. While Tarvaris Jackson, the last pick in Round Two, has had his struggles as a starter, Clemens has struggled to even reach Jackson's level. To wit. . .in his career, Clemens has completed 52% of his passes, a TD/INT ratio of 5/11, and a QB rating of 63.8. Jackson has completed 59% of his passes, compiled a TD/INT ratio of 21/18, and a QB rating of 77.9.
The third round, in which the Vikings had no picks, saw the selection of Charlie Whitehurst, who has never taken a meaningful NFL snap. . .but the Chargers managed to finagle a third-round pick from the Seahawks for him. . .and Brodie Croyle, who really hasn't ever been anything to write home about.
The selection of Tarvaris Jackson has turned out to be one of the better QB selections of that draft. . .how high you rate him probably depends on how you feel about Cutler's ability to pout and throw interceptions.
2007 Draft - The Vikings stunk the year before this, finishing 6-10. They took some schmoe named Adrian Peterson with the seventh overall pick, when many people thought they were so set at running back with Chester Taylor that they should have taken Notre Dame signal caller Brady Quinn. If you were one of those people. . .well, the line for apologies forms to the left. Oh, and JaMarcus Russell went first overall in this draft. Thank goodness we dodged that bullet. In the second and third rounds of this draft, the Vikings took wide receiver Sidney Rice. . .nice. . .and CB Marcus McCauley.
The second round QBs in this draft haven't really done much. Kevin Kolb is getting his shot in Philadelphia after Eagles management finally got rid of the burden that was Donovan McNabb (/sarcasm), but neither John Beck (selected by Miami) or Drew Stanton (drafted by Detroit) has done much. The third round saw the Bills select Trent Edwards, and we may never know if the guy is any good because he plays for the AFC equivalent of Chicago (i.e. where offensive skill position talent goes to die).
I really don't see anyone we "missed out on" here, to be honest.
2008 Draft - The Vikings didn't have a first round pick or a third round pick. . .those went to Kansas City in exchange for some nobody named Jared Allen. However, this draft does have one guy that I would have liked to see in Minnesota, and that's Miami's Chad Henne. Henne, taken one selection after Brian "I lasted one whole training camp in Green Bay" Brohm in the second round, has shown a lot of ability as the quarterback of the run-heavy Miami Dolphins, and looks like he has the makings of a really good quarterback.
The Vikings' second-round pick that year was safety Tyrell Johnson. Heck, I'd swap Henne for Johnson, given the opportunity, I think. The first round of this draft featured Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco, only one of whom (Flacco) they would have actually had a chance at. . .but, hey, all things considered, can you really fault the Vikings for getting the best 4-3 defensive end in the NFL? The third round of this draft saw Kevin O'Connell drafted by the Patriots. The Pats recently released him, and I'm not sure he ever saw any significant game action.
2009 Draft - This is the Matt Stafford/Mark Sanchez draft. . .again, neither of whom the Vikings had any real shot at. So, in the first two rounds, the team "settled" for Offensive Rookie of the Year Percy Harvin and road grader Phil Loadholt. Oh, the humanity. They also grabbed Asher Allen in Round Three.
How bad was the QB class of 2009 outside of those two? The next two quarterbacks draft were Josh Freeman. . .who I, personally, love. . .and Pat White, who might be a quarterback, might be a wide receiver. . .he's sort of like Joe Webb, only four or five inches shorter, a lot lighter, not as fast, and with a weaker arm. Other than that. . .hey, I've never seen the two of them in the same room together at the same time, have you? The next QB selected was Stephen McGee of Texas A&M, taken by the Cowboys at the top of Round Four.
It's really easy for everyone to say, "Well, Brad Childress has never developed a franchise quarterback." The truth of the matter is that during the time Childress has been coach, there haven't been that many opportunities for the Vikings to snag a "franchise quarterback." Seriously, you could make the argument that the Vikings only really "missed" on one guy.
In most cases, in order to get your hands on a player with that description, your team has to be awful for a year so you can select at the top of the first round of the draft. The Vikings, honestly, really haven't had that many seasons in their history, and have only drafted two quarterbacks in the first round in 50 years of football. . .the aforementioned Culpepper, and Tommy Kramer. That the Vikings have had the success they've managed in their history without having a real "franchise quarterback" since ol' #10 retired speaks highly of most of their front office personnel during that time.