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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Zulgad: Bridgewater gives Vikings hope they can finally stay off QB carousel

By Judd Zulgad

Louis Riddick spent more than a decade as a front office executive in the NFL, first with the Washington Redskins and then with the Philadelphia Eagles.

That experience gave Reddick a view into just how desperate teams are to have a decent starting quarterback and is why Riddick, now an analyst for ESPN, projected in his recent mock draft that five QBs will go in the first round on Thursday night.

Riddick’s list includes Jared Goff going first to the Los Angeles Rams; Carson Wentz going second to the Philadelphia Eagles; Paxton Lynch going 20th to the New York Jets; Connor Cook going to 29th to the Arizona Cardinals; and Christian Hackenberg going 31st to Denver.

There was a time not long ago that the Vikings would have been on this list of teams willing to participate in what amounts to a quarterback lottery that is based on hope more than anything.

If the Vikings weren’t being linked to a quarterback in the draft, then they would be rumored to be checking on what it would take to get the disgruntled Sam Bradford out of Philadelphia or Colin Kaepernick out of San Francisco.

This is why you can say what you want about Teddy Bridgewater two years into his tenure as the Vikings quarterback, but his presence enables general manager Rick Spielman and coach Mike Zimmer not to have to enter this crapshoot that has resulted in many sleepless nights, not to mention the loss of jobs, for so many executives.

The Vikings took what they felt were the necessary steps to solve their quarterback dilemma in 2014, when they traded their second- (No. 40 overall) and fourth-round (No. 108) picks to Seattle to get the 32nd and final selection of the opening round. Spielman made the move knowing that if he didn’t the Houston Texans would grab Bridgewater with the opening pick of the second round.

Bridgewater played in 13 games, starting 12 of them, in his rookie season and then started all 16 games last year as the Vikings went 11-5 and lost their first-round playoff game to Seattle.

Bridgewater finished 22nd in the NFL with 3,231 passing yards, 26th with 14 touchdowns, tied for 22nd with nine interceptions, ninth with a 65.3 completion percentage and 22nd with an 88.7 passer rating.

The stats and performances certainly haven’t been perfect, but Bridgewater has Spielman with optimism that his days of playing musical quarterbacks are finished. No more Tarvaris Jackson to Kelly Holcomb to Brooks Bollinger to Gus Frerotte to an aging Brett Favre to Joe Webb to an aging and out-of-shape Donovan McNabb to Christian Ponder to Matt Cassel to Josh Freeman.

That wheel, of course, was supposed to stop with Ponder.

Ponder was taken 12th overall by the Vikings in a 2011 draft that, when it comes to quarterbacks, feels a lot like this one. In other words, teams that swear they will take the best player available and not reach, forget all about that philosophy when it comes to this one position.

Carolina opened the 2011 draft by taking Cam Newton first overall. That worked out great, with Newton leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl last season, but after that the results went downhill fast.

Jake Locker went eighth to the Tennessee Titans, Blaine Gabbert was selected two picks later by Jacksonville and the Vikings passed on Andy Dalton and Kaepernick to take Ponder. Dalton and Kaepernick went in the second round to Cincinnati and the 49ers, respectively.

Locker retired a year ago and Ponder wasn’t retained by the Vikings after making 36 starts in four seasons. He is currently out of the league. Gabbert was a bust with the Jaguars but did finish last season as a starter with San Francisco, only because Kaepernick had washed out.

After two seasons, Ponder had started 26 of the 27 games in which he played and had a 12-14 record. He also had thrown for 4,788 yards with 31 touchdowns, 25 interceptions and had a 77.1 passer rating. Bridgewater has started 28 of the 29 games in which he played and has a 17-11 mark. He has thrown for 6,150 yards with 28 touchdowns, 21 interceptions and has a passer rating of 87.

Ponder, like Bridgewater, had enough success in his second year that the Vikings were able to make the playoffs. In both cases, the young quarterbacks benefited from the fact that Adrian Peterson led the league in rushing.

In Ponder’s case, it soon became apparent that he wasn’t going to be the solution, thus sending the Vikings back to the drawing board. There seems to be far more confidence this time around at Winter Park that Bridgewater won’t suffer a similar meltdown.

Spielman and Zimmer can only hope that confidence turns into a reality, so their franchise can finally get off the quarterback roller coaster for many years to come.

The post Zulgad: Bridgewater gives Vikings hope they can finally stay off QB carousel appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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