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Bleacher Report – Vikings

Training camp preview: Vikings quarterbacks

By Andrew Krammer

Editor’s note: Leading up to Vikings training camp, 1500ESPN.com will break down each position group based on offseason practice observations and interviews.

Previously:
Running backs

Current players (4)

On the team: QB Teddy Bridgewater

Good bet: QB Shaun Hill, QB Taylor Heinicke

Outside looking in: QB Joel Stave

State of the position

Bridgewater (6-2, 215) appears bulked up compared to his listed weight, which is just one pound heavier than his combine 29 months ago, but the young quarterback has evaded requests for the exact number. Entering his third NFL season, Bridgewater looks to continue his winning ways while ascending individually with resources added around him. He’s 12th among starting quarterbacks in completion percentage (64.9%) and 11th in wins (17) since the Vikings drafted him 32nd overall two years ago. His 32 touchdowns in 30 games leave room for improvement, which is why primary free agency (Alex Boone) and draft (Laquon Treadwell) signings addressed the situation around Bridgewater. Minor tweaks were made to his throwing motion and follow through this offseason in an effort to hone his downfield accuracy. Vikings coaches hope improvements in pass protection and at receiver further enable the 23-year-old Bridgewater’s development.

Hill (6-3, 230) isn’t guaranteed his $3.2 million base salary until he makes the roster, though it’s likely he’ll remain the No. 2 quarterback behind Bridgewater this season. The 36-year-old Hill is entering his 15th NFL season and comes off a year in which he attempted seven passes for two completions. It’d likely take a very impressive preseason from Heinicke (6-1, 210) to unseat Hill as the backup. Heinicke, undrafted in 2015 out of Old Dominion, completed 69.5 percent of his passes during last year’s exhibitions and was inactive for 17 games as the No. 3 quarterback.

Stave (6-5, 230) said he had potential deals with four NFL teams after going undrafted this spring, and chose the Vikings because of the quarterback situation. He didn’t stand out in a run-first offense at Wisconsin, throwing for 48 touchdowns and 37 interceptions.

Top competition

Considering the Vikings kept Hill’s $3.2 million salary untouched this offseason, he’s likely to remain the backup. So the top competition comes between Heinicke and Stave for a third quarterback slot that wasn’t activated last season. The opportunity is there for Stave, who has a decent arm but needs to improve in training camp to get the edge over Heinicke.

Telling

“Whatever [Bridgewater’s record] is, he wins games and to me that’s the most important thing. There’s a lot more to playing quarterback than just throwing the ball through the wall. I can name – I won’t name the guys – but I can off the top of my head think of a lot of really, really strong arm quarterbacks that didn’t win, number one, and didn’t take care of the ball and didn’t do things right. Number one picks in the draft, too.” — Mike Zimmer in June

Looking ahead

First and foremost, the Vikings hope they’ll have to pay Bridgewater because that means he’s established himself as the franchise quarterback. Should he continue progressing, he’ll provide relatively cheap quarterback play for the next two to three seasons before a new contract is on the horizon. And winners, regardless of the individual statistics ranging from Alex Smith to Andrew Luck, get paid. A few key defenders, namely Xavier Rhodes and Sharrif Floyd, will cross that bridge first for the Vikings. But recent deals for middle-tier starters like Andy Dalton ($16M/year) or Ryan Tannehill ($19.25M/year) mean Bridgewater would probably be the highest-paid player on the current Vikings if he wasn’t on a rookie contract. Moving forward, the Vikings will try to take advantage of Bridgewater’s rookie deal just as the Seattle Seahawks did with Russell Wilson before paying him an average of $21.9 million per season.

The post Training camp preview: Vikings quarterbacks appeared first on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.

Source:: 1500 ESPN Sportswire

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