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The Minnesota Vikings' 2010 Draft was an interesting one, to say the least. The Vikings had two main holes that they needed to patch up, one in the secondary and one at backup running back, and they addressed those in the first two rounds. The rest of the picks were players that were either drafted far below their draft spot, potential special teams aces, or long-term projects.
Joe Webb, who played quarterback at Alabama-Birmingham the past two seasons but was drafted by the Vikings to play the wide receiver position, falls quite firmly into that third category.
Ordinarily, a sixth-round pick wouldn't get a whole lot of talk, particularly not a sixth-round pick that was drafted by a team that went 12-4 the previous season that's being asked to switch positions. But the more I read and hear about Joe Webb, the more I think that he could actually make a serious contribution to the Minnesota Vikings in 2010.
Webb is an athletic freak. Standing 6'3" and weighing in at 225 pounds, Webb had a phenomenal Pro Day down at UAB. . .and he had to, since he wasn't invited to the NFL Combine. He was timed at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash, put up a 42" vertical jump, and a broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches. And lest you doubt his hops. . .
So yes, Webb is most certainly an outstanding athlete. But, as we all know, simply being an amazing athlete doesn't mean anything in the National Football League (and you can speak to either Brock Lesnar or Todd Lowber for a reference on that, if you need one). But Webb has abilities that can't be coached, that much is for sure. . .and that's part of the reason I think he makes a contribution to the Vikings this year. Really. . .do you think that a guy with this kind of athletic ability would actually make it through waivers to the Vikings' practice squad? Because I don't.
And it's not as though Webb lacks football intelligence or acumen, either. The reason he played quarterback at UAB is solely because their team wanted the best athlete on the team playing the quarterback position. . .and, really, ir's hard to imagine anyone being more athletic than this guy. And despite the possibility that he might "not really be a quarterback," he IS the only player in NCAA history to throw for at least 2,000 yards and rush for at least 1,000 yards in two consecutive seasons. So he clearly has a decent understanding of the game of football and how it works.
So, can he make the Vikings' roster in 2010? Well, the Vikings carried six receivers for the better part of last season. . .Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, Bernard Berrian, Jaymar Johnson, Greg Lewis, and Darius Reynaud. Those first three guys are obviously locks to make the big club, but if I was Johnson, Lewis, or Reynaud, I'd be watching my back. Reynaud has had injury issues during his time in Minnesota, and Johnson spent a significant portion of 2010 not dressing on Sunday afternoons. Lewis might not have a whole lot to worry about, but Johnson and Reynaud could very easily find themselves on the short end of the stick in a training camp battle with Webb. Even if Webb spends this season not dressing for most (if not all) of the games, it would give the Vikings a chance to develop him as a receiver, and working with Brett Favre. . .who's totally coming back, by the way. . .as well as Rice and Vikings' receivers coach George Stewart could only help his chances.
I'll be honest with you, folks. . .outside of the Vikings top two picks, I'm the most excited about Joe Webb. The guy is a tremendous athlete, and the Vikings have the luxury of bringing him along slowly if they choose to retain him. . .and if they try to sneak him onto the practice squad, I have a feeling that they'll be sorely disappointed with the results.
What say you, ladies and gentlemen? Does Joe Webb have what it takes to make a significant contribution to the Minnesota Vikings' 2010 championship run?