Sports

Can Joe Webb Work at Receiver for Vikings?

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When the Vikings season ended last season, so ended the quarterback part of Joe Webb’s football career. In his one and only start last season, a playoff game at Lambeau Field, Webb completed 11 of 30 passes for 180 yards with one interception. Webb’s play in that game prompted the Vikings to sign Matt Cassel to back-up Christian Ponder and move Joe Webb to receiver. Whether this switch was made out of mercy or malice has yet to be determined, but whatever the case, it just might work.

For Webb to successfully reincarnate himself as a receiver there will be no shortage of hurdles. The Vikings didn’t stop at quarterback in their relentless mission to add depth on offense this offseason. They paid just as much, if not more, attention to receiver adding Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson through free agency and the draft, respectively.

With Jennings set to take over Percy Harvin’s role as the number one receiver, Patterson and Jerome Simpson battling it out for second and third spot and Jarius Wright all but guaranteed to get the fourth, there aren’t much in the way of openings. What I’m trying to say is, short of a Rick Ankiel esque comeback, there’s not a hope in hell Webb will make his way into the starting lineup.

With the top four spots on the depth chart all but written in stone, that leaves one, maybe two spots left. In his way stands Greg Childs and Stephen Burton, who combine for seven receptions in the NFL.

Where raw athleticism and build are concerned, Webb is considerably better than both Childs and Burton. Webb stands at 6’4 and ran a 4.40 in the combine leading up to the draft. Whether he will be able to pick up the intricacies of playing receiver in the NFL, is yet to be determined.

One of the many advantages Burton and Childs will have in this fight for the remaining one or two spots at receiver, is that either of them can be placed on the practice squad; Joe Webb not so much. They’ve also had much more time with the playbook, as a receiver, and have a better knowledge of when they’re expected to be where, etc.

It would be one of the whackier stories of this offseason, but don’t rule Webb out as viable receiving option just yet. He’s got the hands, the speed and the build to make it. All that’s left is to find a way to make that translate into production. That, and beat out two younger receivers that aren’t new to the position.

You can follow J.D. Burke: @JDBurkeOV

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