Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 12/17/11
Joe Webb was a good dual-threat quarterback during his final two collegiate seasons at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, rushing for over 1,000 yards in each season and accounting for over 3,000 yards of total offense in both seasons as well. He played wide receiver as sophomore in 2007, with 30 receptions to show for his efforts.

Despite playing under center exclusively in his junior and senior seasons, Webb worked out at wide receiver during his Pro Day leading up to the 2010 NFL Draft. He had an impressive overall performance, including a reported 4.43 second 40-yard dash time. The Minnesota Vikings chose him in the sixth round (199th overall pick) that year, and head coach Brad Childress proclaimed he would exclusively play quarterback for the team.

Webb saw little opportunity for most of his rookie season, but got an opportunity to replace an injured Brett Favre against the Chicago Bears in a December game and went 15-for-26 for 129 yards with two interceptions along with six carries for 38 yards and a his first NFL touchdown in the game. He made his first NFL start in the next game against the Philadelphia Eagles, and went 17-for-26 for 195 yards along with 31 rushing yards and a touchdown as the Vikings pulled off an improbable win. Webb also started the 2010 regular season finale against the Detroit Lions, and went 20-for-32 for 145 yards with an interception as he rushed for 35 yards on five carries.

There was some idle speculation that Webb could be the Vikings' backup quarterback heading into the 2011 season, but the drafting of Christian Ponder in April and the acquisition of Donovan McNabb after the lockout pushed him down the depth chart.  Probably rightly so, considering how raw he is and his clear shortcomings as a passer. Despite his potential, Webb saw the field for just 21 snaps in the Vikings' first 12 games, with four carries, one reception and one pass attempt in that time.

Webb got an opportunity in Week 14, again against the Detroit Lions, when Ponder accounted for four turnovers and had been limited by a hip pointer in practice all week. Webb led two second-half scoring drives, one capped by his own 65-yard touchdown run, and went 12-for-23 for 84 yards as a passer and became the first Vikings' quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game with 109 yards on the ground. The Vikings had a chance to tie the Lions and perhaps win on the final play of the game, but controversy ensued when Webb fumbled and Lions' linebacker DeAndre Levy grabbed his facemask almost simultaneous to the fumble, but the facemask penalty was not called, the Lions recovered the ball and the game was over.

Ponder has practiced more this week and is on track to play this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, but Webb clearly showed he has enough talent to belong on the field in some capacity for a Vikings' team lacking in talent all over the roster.

At 6'4" tall and 220 pounds, Webb definitely looks the part of an NFL player and presents a challenge to the Vikings' coaching staff to get him on the field more the rest of this season and beyond. The team clearly needs playmakers at wide receiver, so perhaps more practice reps at that position would allow him to make a transition and see a more significant role down the road. That may not necessarily occur this year, with the recently signed Sage Rosenfels the only other quarterback on the Vikings' roster right now, but a commitment to utilizing Webb more should start during next offseason if they plan to keep him and get the most out of him.

Webb is under contract through the 2013 season as part of the four-year, $2.71 million deal he signed when he was drafted. He is due just over $1 million over the next two seasons, so keeping him on the roster looks likely given the low financial commitment required. Whether the Vikings' coaching staff can find ways to get him on the field more, maybe even as a kick returner, is the bigger question. I think the coaching staff would echo my sentiment that you always make room for talented players, which Webb has proven he is despite limited chances to prove himself to this point.

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