Joe Webb has the frame and the arm. He even had the opportunity with the second-team offense on Saturday.
Now he’s just trying to take advantage of everything.
“Everything is getting better. I’m learning the playbook slowly but surely. Everything is starting to clear up,” Webb said. “The more reps I get, the more I see. I’m starting to feel good about it.”
He should. With an opportunity to take the second-team reps behind Tarvaris Jackson, Webb has had his share of success.
The highlight in Saturday morning’s practice was actually an incompletion, though no fault of his. During 11-on-11 work, Webb stepped up in the pocket and launched a perfect pass that traveled 65 yards in the air and arrived right on target. Webb couldn’t be blamed that receiver Jaymar Johnson dropped the pass.
It was the type of pass that could help the sixth-round draft choice make the team, but he’s not looking that far ahead just yet.
“I’m not weighing my options right now. I’m just trying to fit in where I get it. Just working out at special teams, at quarterback – wherever they’re trying to put me and wherever I can help out the team, I’m all for it,” he said. “Right now I’m just focusing at quarterback and what they’re telling me to do. I’m just trying my best to make this 53.”
The fact that the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is even playing quarterback is a surprise. That’s the position he played at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, but when he was invited to the Senior Bowl, the college all-star game for NFL prospects, he was used the entire week at wide receiver.
In fact, that’s the position where the Vikings originally intended to use him, but after having him take some reps at the end of rookie minicamp six weeks ago, Webb impressed enough that the coaches decided to move him back to quarterback.
“Not too many (teams) talked to me (at the Senior Bowl about being) a quarterback,” Webb said. “A lot of them thought I’d be a receiver or something like that. I’m thankful that the coaches are giving me a shot.
“… It caught me by surprise, but I’m happy that they see me being able to play quarterback. Obviously they have confidence in me. That’s great to see. For me, it’s great to see that the coaches have confidence in me, knowing I can play quarterback. I just thank them for giving me the shot and I’m just trying to take advantage of it.”
So far, he’s showing some of the characteristics the Vikings like.
“He’s a big athlete. He is a tall guy. He has a strong arm. He can run around,” offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell said. “He can move around, but that is not the first thing that he is thinking. He’s dropping back. He’s able to go through progressions. He’s able to go through his reads.”
Webb has received most of the second-team reps behind Tarvaris Jackson. During the Saturday afternoon practice, he completed 3 of 4 passes in the first full-team session and 3 of 5 in the second session.
“You’ve got to get everything out on time. Everything is all about timing,” Webb said. “You’ve got to make sure you notice what the defense is doing, recognize blitzes and coverage. It’s a lot to catch up on, but the more you see it and the more reps you get and the more you do it, it comes clearly.”
At UAB, Webb played in a spread offense, so getting used to being under center and dropping back has been part of the transition for him. And then there is the larger menu of plays he will be asked to run at the NFL level. He said he is spending “multiple hours” each night studying the playbook and watching film.
But, at this point anyway, Webb is still very much a work in progress.
“He is very raw at this point,” Bevell said. “There are a lot of things that he can continue to improve on – from his footwork to his decision-making and just learning our offense. As we’ve talked about, it’s very robust. There is a lot of verbiage to it. There are things you have to remember. There’s motions, there’s protections, there’s hots. There are a lot of things that he is thinking about and he has done a nice job with it, but there are still some things he needs to be working on.”
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.