Friday, October 9, 2015

joe webb

[NOTE FROM ADAM:  In case you missed it, Lemke’s first bold prediction involved the safety position and you can read about it by clicking right here.  Enjoy round two!]

Many eyes will be on the suddenly talented group of Vikings wide receivers when training camp opens at the end of July.  With new faces like Greg Jennings and rookie Cordarrelle Patterson, along with familiar faces Jarius Wright, Jerome Simpson, and Pro Bowl MVP tight end Kyle Rudolph, fans have a reason to be excited about the passing game. After the probable four “locks” to make the roster (Jennings, Patterson, Wright, and Simpson), the competition becomes intense for the rest of the receivers as to who will still be wearing purple in September.

Joe Webb, Chris Summers, undrafted free agent Rodney Smith, and the hopeful success story Greg Childs will all have to compete for roster spots over the course of the season. Summers was picked up by the Vikings and placed on the practice squad in 2012 after being cut by the Chicago Bears. He is a long shot to make the team, but he has been making some noise this offseason, reportedly looking good in practices. Another long shot is undrafted rookie Rodney Smith out of FSU, however his height (6’5) and speed are both very impressive. I think the main competition will be between Greg Childs and Joe Webb, but even though the Vikings rarely keep more than five receivers, I think both will make the team.

To see Greg Childs come back after suffering an extremely rare dual knee cap blowout would be amazing, and it sounds like he will possibly be ready for training camp. Provided he’s ready and is able to play during the preseason, I think he’ll be another great weapon to add to the mix, and I don’t see how he couldn’t make the roster. I think Joe Webb’s role won’t be so much at wide receiver, but more of a special teams ace. Special teams coordinator Mike Priefer has already talked up the idea of using Webb on special teams as a punt returner, field goal blocking schemes, and even as a gunner on the punting team. I think his versatility as a receiver and special teams member will win him a roster spot, but honestly I’m just glad his days as a quarterback are over (for us anyways).

Well, I hate to keep throwing fuel onto this particular fire (I honestly do), but Joe Webb playing wide receiver seems to be as juicy of a storyline we’re going to find during an otherwise boring portion of the offseason.  So, I figure this is as good of a reason as any to resurrect our “Question of the Week” feature and give those a chance to voice their opinion, in the poll below, if they didn’t want to do it in the comments section of our recent post on the matter.

Here’s the question:  Does Joe Weebb make it as a wide receiver or will this latest attempt to establish himself finally see him out the door?

At 6′ 4″ and 220 pounds, Joe Webb is an inch taller and 15 pounds heavier than first round rookie Cordarrelle Patterson.  In fact, outside of long shots Rodney Smith and Chris Summers, Webb is the biggest wideout on the roster.  Both Webb and Patterson are considered raw, each potentially having the “project” label applied to them at Winter Park, and both could be competing for the same reps heading into 2013.

After failing miserably to get the Vikings a playoff victory last season, the Vikings have moved Webb to wideout, but the depth chart is suddenly very crowded.  Greg Jennings, when healthy, is sure to occupy a starters position considering his talent, experience, and the investment made to put him in purple.  Jerome Simpson and Jarius Wright both have more experience than the young pair and seem to be locks to eat up roster spots heading into this season.  Stephen Burton is someone the Vikings haven’t given up on yet and Greg Childs could throw a wrinkle into things if he is deemed healthy enough to contribute in the preseason.

As of today, the Vikings have 12 wideouts on the roster, and it is safe to say that total will be cut in half by the time the regular season rolls around.  Jennings, Simpson, Wright, and Patterson will surely eat up four of those spots leaving Webb to compete for one or two of the possible spots that would remain.

Last season, when Webb was made to be the backup quarterback only, reports surfaced from beat writers that he was having trouble catching the ball and running routes in practice.  According to multiple reports from this week’s sessions that were open to the media, however, Webb displayed excellent hands and was consistently snatching the ball with the proper away-from-the-body technique.  According to Kevin Seifert, he even was helping rookies learn where they were supposed to line up, suggesting he has a solid grasp of the playbook at this point.

“He has very good hands. He knows the offense very well. He’s actually helping some of the young guys in where to line up at,” Leslie Frazier said of Webb. “Knowing how hard he works and knowing how much he wants to succeed as a receiver, he’ll have a very good chance of getting that done.”

Webb recently talked about how often he has had to change positions throughout his football career, including in high school and college, but he isn’t looking for any sort of sympathy.

“I just like football. I have a passion for the game. I’ve been playing it since I was a little kid. It’s a blessing to be out here on the field. Some guys graduate from college and don’t get a chance to come out here on an NFL field,” Webb said. “I’m just happy for the moment and just trying to take advantage of it.”

Patterson has already laid claim to one of the areas where Webb could potentially help the Vikings, as he has been named the go-to kick returner, and the nature of the NFL business means Patterson is likely to enjoy more chances to succeed at wideout than Webb because of where they were drafted.  Webb and Patterson, and Jarius Wright too for that matter, are essentially competing for the same reps within the offense.

Each possesses similar skills in the open field to Percy Harvin, and could be used the same way Harvin was on manufactured touches like bubble screens, but having three guys to fill this role would seem a little excessive despite the loss of Harvin to Seattle.  Webb is going to have to establish himself in some other fashion, perhaps as a redzone threat where he capitalizes on his height, in order to earn one of the few remaining spots on the depth chart.

Back in January, I suggested that Webb had value to the Vikings as a practice team quarterback capable of emulating any of the many mobile quarterbacks on their 2013 schedule, but using him in this fashion could also prevent him from focusing on being a polished receiver.  I still think Webb is an excellent option to run the practice team, and get the Vikings defense used to chasing down the likes of RGIII and Russell Wilson, but I am now less convinced that this will be enough reason to keep him on the roster.

The Vikings coaching staff, mainly receivers coach George Stewart, must really devote the time needed to find out just what they have in Webb.  It seems fair to say that we know he isn’t an NFL quarterback, so this preseason they need to give him all possible reasons to succeed as a wideout, or else it might be time to cut ties with one of the most popular players on the roster.

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We all knew it was coming.

After his lackluster performance in the Vikings’ Wild Card loss to the Cheeseheads, Joe Webb knew that his only chance of making the 53-man roster in 2013 was at a different position.

Well, now it’s official. The Vikings have moved Webb to wide receiver.

“We had been talking about it for a while, and we made the decision that this was the way to go after we had our draft,” Frazier told the Star Tribune.

With Webb now at wide receiver, he’s facing an uphill battle to stick with the Vikings this upcoming season. He’ll duke it out with Jerome Simpson, Jarius Wright and the rest of the receiver depth chart for snaps behind Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. Considering the few glimpses we’ve gotten of him as a pass-catcher, it’s not promising to say the least.

Still, you can never discount an athlete of Webb’s caliber. He’s been working to improve his pass-catching skills all offseason long and could surprise during training camp and the preseason.

For now, we wait and speculate on something we knew was inevitable.

There are some big name quarterbacks, headlined by USC’s Matt Barkley, still available on Day Three of the Draft.  The Vikings have five remaining picks and plenty of areas in need of some depth.

My question for you is if there is a quarterback you would like to see drafted to join a depth chart that currently consists of Christian Ponder, Matt Cassel, Joe Webb, and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.  If so, which one, and please take to the comments section to let us know what round you want the Vikings to target your guy in.

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