INDIANAPOLIS - The Minnesota Vikings need a new starting quarterback, and general manager Rick Spielman seems to know it.
Matt Cassel is off the roster after voiding his contract. The addition of Josh Freeman was a disaster. The only quarterback under contract with the Vikings is Christian Ponder, whom Spielman took with the 12th pick in the 2011 draft. Thus far, Ponder hasn't had the type of career to match his draft placement.
"This year, that next step forward didn't happen," Spielman said about Ponder. "There are games where you watch him play and he's playing at a high level. Then there's games where he hasn't been. He's shown flashes of it, but never been able to do it on a consistent basis."
Spielman did say he would meet with Cassel's agent in Indianapolis and explore the unrestricted free agent market. But Spielman said he'd have a heavy focus on the quarterback position to add a young player.
"There will be enough depth in this class where you can potentially get a quarterback in the second round, third round, fourth round and that guy can potentially be a franchise guy," Spielman said at the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday.
Spielman has a history of moving up and down in the draft, and had three first-round picks in last year's draft.
"We've done a lot of great things in the draft, but everybody's looking for that quarterback," Spielman said. "That franchise guy. You have to be aggressive to go out there and find that guy and keep turning that wheel until you find the one you hit on. Are we going to force a quarterback at No. 8? We're going to take the best player unless we're absolutely in love with a guy. If we're in love with a guy who may go before us, we may move up in the draft. We would love to move down in the draft. There's so many good players that you're going to get some talented players in the third, fourth and fifth rounds.
"If there's a guy I think we may be able to get in the second or third round, just getting the pulse of how guys are coming off the board, we feel we have enough draft picks to move up and down, which I hope we do. Then we'll be aggressive and go up and get the guy at a certain point in the draft."
Spielman told reporters that Minnesota would perform private workouts with eight or nine quarterbacks. As part of the process, Spielman said new offensive coordinator Norv Turner will have a big impact on who the Vikings add, but not pick the player.
"(Turner) has a history of getting quarterbacks that you may think aren't very good to play beyond what you thought," Spielman said. "There's a lot of different flavors out there. There's movement guys. There's pocket guys. Short guys, tall guys. There's all different kinds. What does he identify when looking at a franchise quarterback? Ultimately, that will be my call and my responsibility."