MINNEAPOLIS -- After all that waiting on Brett Favre, the Minnesota Vikings are accustomed to quarterback uncertainty.
The NFL lockout froze trading activity and free agency, making the NFL draft -- Minnesota has the 12th overall pick -- the first opportunity to address the team's most critical of many needs.
The 2011 quarterback class is deep, with seven prospects pegged by most draft analysts as first- or second-round selections. The quandary for the Vikings, though, is that most of them are viewed as longer-term projects. Beyond Auburn's Cam Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, both near-cinches to be taken before the Vikings are up in the first round, nobody in the rest of the group is considered a can't-miss guy.
The other issue is that the lack of trades and signings has put other teams seeking a franchise quarterback in the same situation, creating a "feeding frenzy" next weekend, as NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock put it.
The lockout itself could also make it difficult for a rookie to thrive this season, given the strong possibility of lost practice time and conversations with coaches, and ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said he doesn't see any of this year's quarterbacks as ready to contribute right away.
"That's the way you should develop a quarterback," Kiper said. "What would have happened if he had gone to the Redskins? I don't think he'd have been Aaron Rodgers right now. He probably would have been kicked to the curb. But he developed. He changed his whole delivery, his whole mechanics of throwing the football. Now he's a potential Hall of Famer and has a Super Bowl ring."
Latest mocks all in one place
Our writers and analysts examine how the first round could unfold. Find out the direction each team is projected to take when they're on the clock in
But Frazier indicated at the combine that the time is right to draft a quarterback.
"We want a guy we can say, 'That's the Minnesota Vikings' quarterback for years to come,' and not to be in this situation two or three years from now," Frazier said then. "We're still going to try to turn every stone and find that guy."
The list of first-round busts is at least as long as the success stories, with infamous flame-outs like Akili Smith, Tim Couch, Joey Harrington and Jamarcus Russell looming large over every team that ponders a quarterback with a high pick.
"It gets your attention," Frazier said. "You've got to do everything you can to get this right, but it's not an exact science and you just hope you get it right. ... Others have tried and failed who are very, very good at this."
With Newton and Gabbert expected to be gone, Jake Locker of Washington is widely considered the next best. He hurt his stock by returning for his senior season and struggling with his accuracy, though he is viewed as a tough competitor.
Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden, now an ESPN analyst, predicted success for Locker in a recent conference call with reporters.
Lack of "accuracy sometimes can be terminal. Sometimes you can't cure that. I think that is a big concern with Jake Locker, because he does miss some throws," Gruden said. "But ... you can see what this guy's capable of doing. He can be a one-man wrecking machine. There is a brilliant talent inside this body he's got. It's a matter of regaining his fundamentals, confidence and composure a little bit, and he'll be fine."
Mayock suggested the Vikings, given their situation, might have to talk themselves into taking Locker.
"I think that's what they're trying to decide in that building right now. That's what I'd be trying to decide," Mayock said.
If they don't, or if Locker is gone, they might have to put together a package to move up in the second round or even into the end of the first round to get Christian Ponder of Florida State, Andy Dalton of Texas Christian or Colin Kaepernick of Nevada. Strong-armed Ryan Mallett of Arkansas is also in the mix, though he's been dogged by off-the-field and character concerns.
"In our league, 'rebuilding' is not a good word," Frazier said at the combine. "But we've got so many pieces in place. I don't think you can be afraid of going with a young quarterback if he's the right guy."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press