Tommy Kramer and Daunte Culpepper have quite a few things in common. They both came from schools that aren't exactly known as football powerhouses (Kramer from Rice, Culpepper from Central Florida). They're both in the top 3 in just about every major passing category in Vikings history. They both, ultimately, had records under .500 as starting quarterbacks in Minnesota, largely through no fault of their own (Kramer was 54-56, Culpepper was 38-42).
But there's one other interesting thing that they have in common.
In the 48-year history of the Minnesota Vikings, Culpepper and Kramer are the only two quarterbacks that the Minnesota Vikings have used a first round draft choice on. Culpepper was drafted higher than any quarterback in Vikings' history, having been selected with the 11th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, while Kramer was the 27th overall selection in 1977. Other than that, every other quarterback ever drafted by the Minnesota Vikings has been selected in the second round or below.
Taking a look at this team's current quarterback situation sort of underscores this semi-ignorance of the quarterback position. Right now, the top guy on the depth chart is a 37-year old journeyman who, while serviceable, is still best known for headbutting a wall during a touchdown celebration and injuring his neck. The backup is a talented but raw project that got thrown into the fire way too soon. The third-string guy is a 5th round draft pick who, while talented, spent his pre-season looking almost totally lost. . .and with the current coach, that's a condition that could remain permanent.
Now, I'm not saying that selecting a quarterback in the first round is the ultimate answer to our quarterback situation. After all, the greatest quarterback in Viking history was a third-round selection from the University of Georgia. The #4 guy on the Vikings all-time passing yardage list was an 8th round pick out of Florida State that never started a game. Guys like Tom Brady went in the 6th round of the draft, and guys like Tony Romo never got drafted at all.
But as I sit here this afternoon watching Matt Ryan lead a Falcons' offense that was supposed to be awful this year. . .largely because they had thrown a rookie right into the fire. . .to what's shaping up to be an upset at Corrugated Tin Shack Field in Green Bay, I can't help but wonder about what the Vikings could be if they drafted a quarterback, gave him a coach that could actually develop him, and actually made a committment to him. With Gus Frerotte playing out a one-year deal with the Vikings and the futures of both Tarvaris Jackson and Brad Childress decidedly up in the air, the time is coming where the Vikings might not have much of a choice.
So, who are some of these potential long-term answers at the quarterback position? Well, looking at the list of the top 32 NFL Draft prospects at NFL Draft Countdown, you'll notice that there are currently zero quarterbacks that carry a first-round grade. Now, this doesn't count underclassmen like Georgia's Matthew Stafford, Southern California's Mark Sanchez, Florida's Tim Tebow, and Kansas State's Josh Freeman. With the prevalence of the spread offense in college football, however, coaches and scouts not only have to take physical skills and abilities into account, but the system the player plays in and how well it translates to the NFL game.
What do you see for the future of the Vikings' quarterback situation? Go ahead and discuss it here, and continue enjoying your afternoon of NFL action. With the Falcons just having gone up 10 in Green Bay with about 3 1/2 minutes left, I know I'm sure as hell enjoying it.