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Kevin Schnepf, Published January 24 2011

Schnepf: Vikings need to draft a QB

One year removed from the nightmare in New Orleans, it was certainly understandable why Minnesota Viking football fans were green with envy Sunday watching the NFC and AFC championship games.

That would be Packers green and Jets green – two teams that have proven there is indeed life after Brett Favre.

Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback who was Favre’s backup for two seasons at Green Bay, is now a Super Bowl quarterback after Sunday’s win over Chicago. Mark Sanchez, the quarterback who replaced Favre after he left the Jets, came close before losing to Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers Sunday.

The 45th Super Bowl is set with two quarterbacks the Vikings would love to have: Rodgers vs. Roethlisberger.

If the previous 44 Super Bowls have taught us anything, it’s that the majority of the winning quarterbacks are pure pocket passers who were drafted and groomed by the teams they led to the Lombardi Trophy.

Take note, Vikings mucky-yucks when you start brainstorming for this spring’s NFL Draft.

Of the 28 winning Super Bowl quarterbacks, 17 were drafted by that winning team. All 17 have been pure pocket passers.

In contrast, of the 28 quarterbacks who have ever started a game for the Vikings in their 50-year history, only 9 were drafted by the Vikings. Of those 9, it can be argued only 5 could be considered pure-pocket passers.

I know from experience how detrimental it can be for a team if you don’t have a pure-pocket passer. As the starting quarterback for my junior high team, my quick pitches covered as much yardage as my wobbling bombs. I was too slow to even find the pocket – which explains why my playing career ended in the eighth grade.

Nonetheless, here’s my advice to Viking gurus:

Stay away from drafting a Joe Webb, a Tarvaris Jackson or a Daunte Culpepper – run-first, pass-second quarterbacks who will never wear a Super Bowl ring. Even as tempting as it may be, stay away from drafting Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton – another running quarterback who, if he doesn’t learn to pass first, will never survive the NFL.

Here’s my plan to get the Vikings back to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1977:

Plan for the immediate future by picking up a veteran quarterback who can not only help the Vikings avoid the NFC North Division cellar, but help groom a new quarterback. Vince Young, even though he can be considered a running quarterback, is available. So is Donovan McNabb. Maybe consider a trade for Kyle Orton or Kevin Kolb.

More importantly, plan for the long term. Avoid sending players to Mississippi to talk Favre out of retirement and focus on the draft.

Wouldn’t it be sweet if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced the following at this spring’s NFL Draft: “With the 12th pick of the first round, the Minnesota Vikings pick Ryan Mallett, quarterback, Arkansas or Blaine Gabbert, quarterback, Missouri or Jake Locker, quarterback, Washington.”

Sensing these guys might not be available, Texas Christian’s Andy Dalton should be the quarterback the Vikings try to get. This talented, pure-pocket passer would be a steal in the second round.

Maybe, just maybe, after a couple years of grooming, Dalton can lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl.

It’s been done before. It took Roethlisberger and Tom Brady two years from the time they were drafted until they reached a Super Bowl. But more than likely, Viking fans will need to be more patient. The average time it takes for a quarterback to be groomed into a Super Bowl champion is eight years. Hey, it took a 39-year-old John Elway 15 years to win his first Super Bowl.

Let’s just hope history doesn’t repeat itself when it comes to the Vikings and their quarterbacks.

Their very first quarterback, Fran Tarkenton, wasn’t too shabby of a draft pick. But he ended up with a 0-3 Super Bowl record, perhaps because he was known more for his scrambling than his pocket passing.

The Vikings had a nice string of drafted quarterbacks with Tommy Kramer, Steve Dils and Wade Wilson. But neither one played in a Super Bowl.

Ever since then, the Vikings have pinned their hopes not on the draft but on available veteran quarterbacks like Rich Gannon, Jim McMahnon, Warren Moon, Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Gus Frerotte and Favre. I don’t recall any one of those guys leading the Vikings to the Super Bowl.

And you know the Super Bowl is on the minds of Viking fans.

During church prior to Sunday’s NFC and AFC championship games, the priest asked the congregation what they wanted most out of life. Two people quickly responded: ‘Going to heaven.’ A third parishioner quipped: ‘The Vikings winning a Super Bowl.’

With a drafted, pure-pocket quarterback, wouldn’t that be heavenly?


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549

Schnepf’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com