You know. . .I thought really long and really hard about whether or not to include Tarvaris Jackson on this list, and I ultimately decided to do so.
Why was it such a debate? Well, I'll explain.
Jackson was selected with the last pick of the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft, the first (and only) draft of the Brad Childress/Fran Foley era (only because Foley was canned shortly thereafter and replaced with Rick Spielman). The Vikings had two third-round selections in the 2006 draft. . .their own pick, the 83rd overall selection, and the third round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, the 95th overall, that they acquired in the whole Steve Hutchinson/Nate Burleson "poison pill" mess that we've been over numerous times before.
The Vikings were one of many teams that had worked out Jackson before the draft, and though he was projected to go sometime on the second day of the draft (which, then, still meant somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds), the Vikings felt the need to trade both of their third round picks to the Steelers in order to move up to the 64th pick and nab Jackson before anyone else got him.
Now, in the Vikings' defense, 2006 was not the year to take a quarterback. . .here, in order, is a list of all 13 of the signal callers that were selected in the 2006 NFL Draft:
Vince Young (Titans)
Matt Leinart (Cardinals)
Jay Cutler (Broncos)
Kellen Clemens (Jets)
Tarvaris Jackson (Vikings)
Charlie Whitehurst (Chargers)
Brodie Croyle (Chiefs)
Brad Smith (Jets)
Ingle Martin (Packers)
Omar Jacobs (Steelers)
Reggie McNeal (Bengals)
Bruce Gradkowski (Buccaneers)
D.J. Shockley (Falcons)
Heck. . .comparatively, Jackson was one of the better quarterbacks to come out of the 2006 Draft. As of now, Cutler is clearly better, you could argue that Young is better (even though he's a nut bar), and. . .well, unless you want to count Brad Smith's exploits as a kick returner/wide receiver as making him a better quarterback, that's really about it.
Even though it was widely acknowledged that Jackson would need at least a year, and probably two, to properly develop, the complete and utter incompetence that Brad Johnson displayed in his last year as a Viking threw Jackson into the fire entirely too early, as he made his first start on a rainy December night in Green Bay. He completed nine passes for all of fifty yards (and still damn near got the victory, though not really because of his own actions), and Viking fans were wanting to see what the youngster could do.
So, he was given the starting job going into 2007, and had trouble staying healthy. To his credit, the Vikings had eight wins that season, and all of them came in games where Jackson took the first snap from center (though there were a couple of those games that he didn't finish). He was given the starting job again in 2008, and lost it to Gus Frerotte two games into the season. He remained the backup until Frerotte's injury late in the season put him back on the field, and the Vikings ultimately made it to the post-season and won the NFC North division under his guidance. He stunk it up in the second half of Minnesota's playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles, which placed doubts as to whether or not he could really be the quarterback of the future.
And we all know what that doubt led to in the ensuing two seasons at the quarterback position.
So that's why I was torn about putting him on this list. Yes, he wasn't great, he really didn't seize any of his opportunities to take the starting job (altering the future of the Vikings in a big way), and when he got his opportunity after Brett Favre's injury this season, he was relatively awful, especially for a guy that had been in the league for five years. On the other hand, he was put into a bad situation, thrown into the fire entirely too soon. . .and of all the people that were affected by the Favre circus, he handled it with as much class and dignity as anybody.
With that in mind. . .I'm going to give this one to you folks to debate.
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