As has been the theme of nearly every new head coach coming into a new situation, Vikings faithful have heard that "no one will be handed the job," at any position and head coach Mike Zimmer reiterated that sentiment with his characteristic bluntness when asked about the pressure to start a quarterback whose ranked fourth in jersey sales a mere 48 hours after he had been drafted.
"I really don't care where his jersey ranks as far as sales or anything like that," he said to a gathered crowd of the press. He seemed frankly unaware that anyone had been keeping track or that it may affect his plans. "No, we're going to bring Teddy along at the right time. I've said this before, I want competition at every spot."
Other quarterbacks seemed to have been in contention, and Zimmer's already seen marked improvement from both of the other QBs on the roster.
"Watching the quarterbacks that we've had, I feel like they've improved a lot in the short time since minicamp to where they are now. I think they've improved a lot in throwing the ball, in their footwork. We'll just see where it goes."
That isn't to say he isn't impressed by what Teddy has shown so far—he went out of his way to talk about what impressed and surprised him about the surprise first-round pick—but by no means has anyone been handed a spot. When OTAs start, Mike Zimmer plans to put every rookie at the bottom of their respective depth charts when mixed in with the veterans.
"They'll start at the bottom," he said. "It doesn't mean they'll end there at the bottom. You've got to line them up somewhere, so they'll start down there and we'll go from there. You guys are more worried about the depth chart them I am. I worry about it when we get to September."
The only other position of note on the offense worth thinking about is the left guard position with Charlie Johnson. The running theory among a lot of folks is that David Yankey—or perhaps even Jeff Baca—would be in direct competition with the former left tackle to start there, but there are a lot of obstacles along the way.
David Yankey let it be known that the transition and new scheme has been a primary concern when meeting with the Vikings and learning the scheme. The Vikings scheme is one of the more complex ones in the NFL when it comes to run-blocking and has been for some time. This doesn't bode well for Yankey's prospects as a Day One starter, and he acknowledged how intense it's going to be.
He affirmed that change in complexity when asked today. "Definitely. In talking to coach Davidson and going through meetings the first couple of day here. It's been pretty intense and it's good to learn."
Yankey doesn't necessarily see it as an insurmountable obstacle, though.
"There's always similarity. At the end of the day, everyone runs somewhat of the same schemes so it's cool to see a little bit of the carryover."
The fact that Yankey, along with third-round pick Scott Crichton and first-round pick Anthony Barr, has to go back to school for another month, per NFL rules regarding rookies, may create some issues. Barr illuminated that they will have the opportunity not just to work with position coaches from the Vikings, but work an open book by freely having access to get any questions they want answered at any time.
The priority for those folks, and Yankey in particular, is learning the techniques and priorities the coaching staff has put into place. "With the offensive line with Yankey, [it's] more about the techniques with him, the playcalls, the terminology... things like that. Things that they can take and go back to schools and work on them."
Every rookie heading back to school will get a list of specific techniques they need to work on, some film work to reference and a list of things they specifically need to work on in the coming month in order to prepare for life in the NFL.
The fact that Charlie Johnson has years of experience in the Davidson offensive line and system should give him a leg up on any particular competition, but Zimmer has decided it's not worth thinking that far ahead.
"I think it's good for all guys to play together regardless whether it's the secondary or the offensive line or the backfield or whatever position," he said in response to a question about whether or not chemistry will help any offensive linemen retain their jobs. "It's good and we'll try to get it there as quick as we can. At this stage, where we haven't even seen them with pads or anything close to a competitive situation, it's awful early to worry about that right now."
Specifically when asked about Yankey, "We're going to look at him more this weekend, we're playing him all over the place right now. But after this weekend we'll look at him more. He may have to be a swing guy anyway. Too early to make that determination."
Yankey still has some weight to gain, but no specific target has been set other than to expand his upper body frame.
For Bridgewater and Yankey, two players on the offense people are hoping will start sooner than later, it sounds like they'll have an ample opportunity to earn their spot, but will have to work their way up from the bottom to do it.