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Can Minnesota Vikings afford to pass on Johnny Manziel?

Earlier this week, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer seemed to be sending signals that his team would pass on Johnny Manziel if the quarterback was still there with the eighth overall pick in the draft. Can Minnesota afford to pass on Manziel?

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  • Daniel Jeremiah
  • Having Cassel allows Vikes to pass

I believe the Vikings can afford to pass on Manziel. They have a serviceable starter on the roster in Matt Cassel who fits new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's offense. They can fill another need with a difference maker at No. 8 and address the QB spot in the next round. Manziel isn't an ideal fit for Turner's offense, anyway.

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  • Charles Davis
  • Zimmer shouldn't draft QB he isn't happy with

They can afford to pass, even if Blake Bortles and Teddy Bridgewater have both been selected. If Zimmer, in his first (and potentially last) chance to run an NFL team, is not comfortable with a player or his style, he shouldn't draft that player. Besides, new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's most successful style of QBs have been Troy Aikman and Phillip Rivers. That doesn't exactly scream, "Get me Johnny Manziel," does it? The current QBs on the Vikings' roster, Christian Ponder and Matt Cassel, aren't ideal, but do the Vikes have to force a QB pick at No. 8? Absolutely not.

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  • Gil Brandt
  • Manziel unlikely to be there at No. 8, anyway

Historically, this is the time of year when, quite frankly, I don't believe much of what is said about NFL prospects, especially what's said publicly from teams. And silence can be just as deafening. Before drafting Jay Cutler, the Broncos had exactly zero interaction with the quarterback in the months leading up to the draft. As for Zimmer's comments, I don't read much into them, but I will say this -- I don't think the Vikings, if they have interest in Manziel, will be in position to draft him at No. 8; they'd have to move up, in my opinion, to have a chance at landing Johnny Football.

I get that this is a deep draft overall, but if I'm the Vikings, I'm taking a quarterback at No. 8, assuming either Bortles, Bridgewater or Manziel is there. Say what you want about how the Ravens, 49ers and Seahawks, among others, have been successful of late because of their defenses. Those teams also had good quarterbacks, and outside of the top four guys -- I'm including Derek Carr -- I'm not sure there is a sure-fire NFL starter in this draft. Yes, Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson were drafted after the first round. But those guys are outliers. If Manziel is there, the Vikings should take him.

The gap between the trio of Manziel, Bridgewater and Bortles and the rest of the quarterback field seems to be shrinking. As a matter of fact, the buzz in Cleveland is that Fresno State's Derek Carr might crash the party by being picked ahead of one or more of them. So why panic if you're Minnesota or anyone else? Not only can the Vikings afford to pass on Manziel, they can afford to pass on a quarterback altogether at No. 8 if they make the most of a second-day pick at the position. That said, I have Manziel going to Minnesota in my mock draft, and the fit there seems to be strong. Zimmer's comments shouldn't be taken overly seriously. Manziel in purple makes some sense, but that doesn't mean someone else doesn't make more.

Zimmer's comments aside, Manziel should be worth a look at No. 8 if he's still available. You wouldn't have to play him right away with the current quarterbacks on the roster, and Zimmer has to understand how difficult a guy like Manziel would be to game plan against. But can they afford to pass on him? Yes, they can. In such a deep draft they can address most of their needs now and worry about a signal-caller in next year's draft or through free agency.

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