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Lurtsema Likes TCU’s Dalton for Vikings QB

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April 27, 2011

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Bob Lurtsema didn’t hesitate when asked what the Vikings should do in the NFL draft this week.  “I think it’s imperative to come out of the first or second round with a quarterback,” he told Sports Headliners.

The former Vikings’ defensive lineman is a close observer of the hometown team that’s searching for someone to replace retiring Brett Favre.  With seemingly no one on the roster ready to be an NFL No. 1 quarterback, and a league labor dispute stopping trades between teams, the draft that begins tomorrow night with the first round is a vital source of QB talent to the Vikings, according to Lurtsema.

Lurtsema believes Leslie Frazier is a “great coach” but the Vikings’ new football boss must “establish” a quarterback.  And Lurtsema knows who he would take.

In a deep quarterback draft, superb athletes like Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker are receiving much of the attention and all could be gone before the Vikings choose at No. 12.  But Lurtsema likes TCU’s Andy Dalton, a smart quarterback whose physical skills aren’t overwhelming but he was part of a winning culture at TCU and a four-year starter.

When asked if he would choose Dalton at No. 12, Lurtsema said: “I would all day long.  Every quarterback that has ever been drafted (through the years), there’s something negative about him.”

The Vikings draft at No. 11 in the second round, likely too late then to get Dalton whose aptitude and experience presumably interests a lot of teams.  Another quarterback with skills could be available, though.

If the Vikings don’t take Dalton in the first round, Nick Fairley might be their choice. This is also a draft deep in defensive linemen and Fairley, who has been mentioned as a top five pick, could be too much for the Vikings to pass on if he is still available.  The 6-5, 298-pound Auburn defensive tackle is a monster talent who might fall to the Vikings because there are so many promising linemen, receivers and quarterbacks in this draft, but─oh, yes─Fairley’s work ethic supposedly isn’t the best.

Fairley, who was both a sizeable run stopper and agile pass rusher for national champion Auburn as a junior, won the Lombardi trophy as the country’s best lineman but observers ask whether he’s a one-year wonder.  Fairley didn’t show much during his sophomore season in 2009 before his big year last fall.  Coming out of high school he first attended junior college.

The Vikings, though, didn’t shy away from a controversial player in 2009 when wide receiver Percy Harvin, who had reportedly tested positive for marijuana, was still available with the No. 22 pick in the first round.  In 2007 the Vikings were willing to take running back Adrian Peterson with the No. 7 pick after Peterson’s injury history had created skepticism about his durability as a pro.

Frazier’s background is that of a defensive coach.  He knows the playing days for 38-year-old tackle Pat Williams are few.  Pairing Fairley with Pro Bowler Kevin Williams would give the Vikings a load of talent at defensive tackle.

Regardless of who the Vikings take in the first round the pressure is on to make this a productive draft.  The franchise had no No.1 pick last year, nor did the Vikings have a first round choice in 2008.  Recent drafts have left the Vikings with a need for young talent who can become starters.

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David Shama

David Shama is a former sports editor and columnist with local publications. His writing and reporting experiences include covering the Minnesota Vikings, Minnesota Twins, Minnesota Timberwolves and Minnesota Gophers. Shama’s career experiences also include sports marketing. He is the former Marketing Director of the Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He is also the former Marketing Director of the United States Tennis Association’s Northern Section. A native of Minneapolis, Shama has been part of the community his entire life. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota where he majored in journalism. He also has a Master’s degree in education from the University of St. Thomas. He was a member of the Governor’s NBA’s Task Force to help create interest in bringing pro basketball to town in the 1980s.

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