With the NFL Draft over, the Minnesota Vikings are now going to work with all their new rookies and see where they stand against the veterans. This includes first round pick Teddy Bridgewater, who became the starting quarterback for Louisville by the third game of his freshman season and kept the position for the rest of his college career, according to ESPN.
Now that Bridgewater has been picked up by the Minnesota Vikings, many are wondering about how long it will take for him to secure the starting position. Christian Ponder has been the starter for the Vikings since 2011, but his numbers have not been that spectacular.
Bleacher Report states that, in the 36 games Ponder has played for the Vikings, he’s thrown for 6,436 yards with 38 touchdowns and 34 interceptions for a 77.3 passer rating.
While the numbers “aren’t terrible,” it could be time for the Minnesota Vikings to make a changeup, writes Sean O’Donnell.
“Under Ponder, the Vikings offense has never really been able to take flight,” O’Donnell noted. “It’s not that he’s been terrible — he simply hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing.”
Ponder will now serve as backup to Matt Cassel, according to a separate article from ESPN. And despite his disappointing performance, Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said he will not trade Ponder since the team would only have one quarterback afterward.
“I would not do that,” Spielman said. “We’re going to need two quarterbacks. Three.”
With the pickup of Bridgewater, the Minnesota Vikings now have three quarterbacks. But it’s still undetermined where he will be placed in the lineup. Cassel will be with the Vikings for at least another two years, and it’s a rarity to have a rookie start under offensive coordinator Norv Turner. ESPN reports that in Turner’s 23 seasons as either an offensive coordinator or head coach, there have been only 12 games in which a rookie has started in the quarterback position.
Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer said he’s “all about competition.”
“I want the best guys to play, the guys that can do the best job,” he said. “I understand there is a fine line with young quarterbacks of getting them beat up and those things but we have a very good offensive line here and we have, in my opinion, two good quarterbacks.”
Zimmer added that Bridgewater will start for the Minnesota Vikings “when we feel like he’s ready” and “if he’s the best guy.”
“We always want to have competition in our football team at every position,” he said. “The more good football players we can get, the better off we are as a team.”
But if Bridgewater wants to start for the Minnesota Vikings, he’s going to have to improve on his downfield throws and his passes that went for “at least 20 yards in the air,” notes reporter Ben Goessling. He only completed 45.1 percent and 39.1 percent, respectively, in those categories last year.
“If he can refine that part of his game, and others, in time to start some games for the Vikings this season, he will,” Goessling writes. “If he can’t, there’s no rush to get him on the field.”
During an interview on The Dan Patrick Show, Bridgewater said “there was a chance” that the Cleveland Browns might have drafted him. But he told his agent that he did not want to end up in Cleveland, and “every visit” Bridgewater had with the Minnesota Vikings made him feel “comfortable” in wanting to play with the team.
“Throughout this process, I felt comfortable with the Minnesota Vikings,” he said.
[Image credited to Brad Rempel – USA TODAY Sports via NFL Spin Zone]