Early this year, before the NFL draft process began, Central Florida coach George O'Leary talked to his star quarterback about the Vikings.

O'Leary figured Minnesota would be a great place for Blake Bortles because of star running back Adrian Peterson and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner, who uses a system similar to what Bortles ran in college.

"I'd love to see (Bortles) go to Minnesota," O'Leary, the Vikings' defensive coordinator in 2002-03, said Monday in a phone interview. "I think any young quarterback would love to have the running game they have. (Bortles) asked me before the draft (process) all started, 'What do you think?' I said I hope he goes to some place where they can run the ball. It would be a lot easier. It takes a little bit of heat off him as far as being the guy.

"I basically think it'd be a great mix (with the Vikings). There's no question they like him. Norv really likes him."

Heading into the draft, which runs Thursday through Saturday, one of the big questions is whether the Vikings like Bortles enough to draft him with the No. 8 pick in the first round or whether they will select a defensive player or look to trade down.

Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel is expected to be gone by the time Minnesota picks. That could leave Bortles as the best quarterback available for the Vikings, who need one but are not desperate since they recently re-signed Matt Cassel to a two-year contract.

The 6-foot-4 Bortles is considered by many to have the most upside of any quarterback in the draft, but he is not regarded as a sure thing. So he could be a risk at No. 8.

"This is a stab in the dark because I started out with all (the available quarterbacks) rated in the middle to the bottom of the first round," ESPN analyst and former NFL executive Bill Polian said Monday on a conference call.