Life after Kirk Cousins. problem front and center in the Minnesota Vikings orbit.
That was only amplified when Cousins’ contract was restructured with void years to give salary cap relief this year instead of an extension. Signs point to this being #8 last year in Minnesota. I don’t believe the door is completely closed on an extension, but Cousins will be 35 next season. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are reluctant to commit to the veteran defender long-term.
7 QB Draft for Vikings
The improbable trade for Lamar Jackson continues to be discussed, but the draft looks more likely to see the Vikings find their next quarterback, whether this year or in 2024. A development guy in the later rounds, Minnesota needs to start the ball rolling after Cousins.
Drafting a quarterback this year who can sit behind Cousins for a year before taking over would be ideal. Unfortunately for Minnesota, they are not in prime position to make a move. It all depends on how determined the Vikings are to get a quarterback this year and how aggressive they are willing to be.
There are 7 QB draft picks for the Vikings throughout the draft. If the right circumstances arise, these are the guys the Vikings could take, in my personal preference.
1. CJ Stroud
If I were the Carolina Panthers, CJ Stroud is the guy I’d pick number one. However, if he beats the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4, it’s time for Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to come calling. If the Vikings are lucky enough to see Stroud start to fall, this is the guy they need to go and get.
As a former quarterback, Kevin O’Connell’s appreciation for QB accuracy has always come through when talking about the position. Stroud doesn’t have a cannon for an arm, but he’s strong enough while being deadly accurate, and he displays excellent passing game instincts to play with an impressive mix of size and mobility that make him a dynamic player.
One notable thing about O’Connell’s offense in Year 1 was how much control Cousins was given. He was free to read the defense and make changes at the line of scrimmage as he saw fit. This is where Stroud is perfectly suited to continue that style of offense. He completely controlled the offense at Ohio State, appearing to be involved in setting defenses, blocking routes and calling buzzers at the line of scrimmage.
2. Bryce Young
I would be surprised if Bryce Young falls on the board and falls to the Vikings. He has accuracy, a high football IQ, the ability to improvise and keep up under pressure – everything you want from your franchise quarterback. The only drawback is his small frame, which is the only thing that can see him sliding on the board.
The issue of Young’s height and weight dominated this year’s combine build-up. He measured 5-10 and 1/8ths of an inch while weighing 204 pounds, heavier than previously reported and perhaps heavier than his playing weight. While his height is a concern, smaller quarterbacks have been successful in the NFL. More problematic is the lightweight structure.
Quarterbacks are given more coverage than in years past, but NFL quarterbacks still get hit hard. Will his size scare teams? If that happens, the Vikings should be ready to pounce. Young has all the makings to be a franchise quarterback. The only doubt is whether he has the stamina.
3. Will Lewis
We are now in areas that look more likely. Some have Will Lewis in the top five and some aren’t so sure. If one of the top four QBs slides down the board to the Vikings at age 23, it looks like it will be Lewis. I’m not sold on trading the Kentucky quarterback. However, if he’s still on the board at 23, he’s worth a gamble.
Lewis has the size, mobility and arm talent you want, and in college he ran the NFL offense of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Like Stroud, he can do anything O’Connell wants his QB to do.
From Lewis’ perspective, Minnesota would be a great landing spot. A QB-friendly head coach and a year back from Cousins to help him develop. He’s not the finished article you turn on Week 1 of Year 1. Given time, he could be that guy.
4. Anthony Richardson
The last of the four guys expected in the first round is Anthony Richardson, who is walking around with his athletic profile. Do the Vikings want that kind of quarterback? A player whose strengths revolve around physical ability. He has a powerful arm and is a dual-threat QB, which might be tempting for some, but I wondered if O’Connell wanted an inaccurate quarterback.
For the right team, Richardson is worth a roll of the dice. In my opinion, Minnesota is not that team. Especially with the Vikings likely having to give up and trade up a lot to get him. At least one team will be enamored with Richardson’s physical traits enough to take him early.
5. Hendon Hooker
Hendon Hooker was drafted by the Vikings as a 23-year-old in the national media’s mock draft, and suddenly he was on everyone’s lips. I can’t imagine the Vikings taking him at 23, but if, as many expect, the Vikings trade back for more Day 2 picks, Hooker is certainly in play.
He has the size, mobility, accuracy and mechanics as a passer that check all the boxes. Those things point to a first-round quarterback, but there are some significant flaws.
Hooker operated in a vertical spread-pace offense that didn’t translate very well to the NFL, making him an evolving quarterback. A year with Cousins should be ideal, then. That brings us to Hooker’s main flaw: age. He is 25 years old, which is old for a quarterback who is considered a potential starter. For comparison, he is 10 months older than Jordan Love, who has been waiting in the wings for two seasons in Green Bay.
Hooker is also recovering from a torn ACL, though he should be ready for the new season without any setbacks. The question with Hooker is where can you get him? If age and injury hold off enough teams that he slides into the Vikings’ lineup late in the third round, then he’s worth taking. Until then, I am not convinced.
6. Tanner McKee
Tanner McKee could be off the board for Day 2. If that’s the case, the Vikings don’t want to get involved. Still, McKee is worth considering if he’s still on the board as we head into the fourth round, especially with Minnesota picking 119. year to be ready.
McKee has great size and arm talent for an NFL quarterback, but he lacks the athleticism that many are looking for in today’s NFL. He’s a tall, well-built pocket pass rusher, and his success will depend on a top-notch offensive line and developing the mental side of his game to a Hall of Fame level to make up for his lack of athleticism. .
7. Dorian Thompson-Robinson
On the opposite end of the spectrum from McKee is Dorian Thompson-Robinson. The UCLA QB has the athleticism and arm talent to get teams interested. Kind of like Richardson, except at the price of a Day 3 pick. DTR will be a developmental pick where the team will hope to coach his passing game, particularly his poise and accuracy in the pocket.
If the team can coach those areas and marry them with his athleticism and ability as a runner. Has the potential to be a dangerous QB in a few years. Thompson-Robinson is my favorite option as a late-round flier. He was a leader in college, known for his character. If the Vikings aren’t going to take a quarterback in the first round, this is the guy that should be taken as a plan B to start giving the team options for life after Cousins.