Vikings GM Might Already Have Next QB1 in Mind
The next 10 games will alter the fate of the Minnesota Vikings, particularly pertaining to head coach Mike Zimmer and quarterback Kirk Cousins. If the team rallies back from a 3-4 record, effectuating some damage in the postseason, perhaps the twosome will partake in Minnesota’s 2022 campaign.
If 2021 finishes with mediocrity or futility, one or both men will be jettisoned, ushering in an era of change for the Vikings for the first time since the spring of 2014.
Right now, the Vikings holster QB3 Kellen Mond on the depth chart, a rookie drafted out of the 3rd Round of the 2021 NFL Draft from Texas A&M. It is unclear if Mond is the long-term contingency plan for the Vikings at quarterback. He might be, but he also could be career backup. We shall see.
In the event Cousins is a short-termer in Minnesota, general manager Rick Spielman is already exploring the future of the quarterback position. Hell, he did it with the selection of Mond in April.
But now that search may be vamping up.
On Monday, Ben Goessling from the Star Tribune tweeted this about Spielman’s weekend travels.
Carson Strong is a player that a team scouts when general management has eyes on the 1st Round for a quarterback. Unless something weird happens to Strong’s draft stock – that does happen sometimes – the Nevada quarterback will be chosen in the 1st Round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Some mock drafts foreshadow his selection as high as the #3 pick, while some perceive Strong as a late-1st Round commodity.
The takeaway is the action – if Spielman has eyes on 1st-Round quarterbacks, it tips his hand a bit on the future of Cousins. Aside from last Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys, Cousins has performed wonderfully in 2021, currently grabbing the second-best grade among all NFL passers per Pro Football Focus. You can perceive Cousins as “overpaid,” unexciting, or maybe you flat-out don’t like the guy – but he is a good NFL quarterback despite erroneous narratives stating otherwise. And if the Vikings buy into any of those media-sponsored talking points – or simply want a fresh start – that would explain Spielman’s trip to have a peek at Strong.
Strong is 6’4″ and a prototypical quarterback. His athleticism is run of the mill, so this would not be the dawn of the “mobile quarterback” era for the Vikings. Let’s get that announcement out of the way.
Yet, here’s what Strong does well, per Drae Harris of The Draft Network:
“Strong is an average athlete with regard to mobility outside of the pocket. In the run game, he isn’t much of a threat to the defense as a runner. Therefore, running many of the zone-read concepts with him would be problematic. The passing game is where he thrives. He’s more of a traditional pocket passer with very good arm strength and throws with a good base. He has the mental processing to make quick decisions. Nevada’s offense provides many opportunities for him to display his downfield accuracy. He has a good internal timer and he innately feels pressure on the backside. He has a quick release and easily gets the ball out of his hands from the gun to short throws. He goes through his progressions and will check it down when necessary. One of his best assets is his ability to take care of the football. Some of his turnovers in the exposures I’ve graded were situations where his receivers let him down.”
Love or hate the idea of drafting a relatively non-mobile signal-caller, just know that Strong is evidently on Spielman’s mind – if only for a scouting trip.
The most significant clue from Goessling’s tweet is the search itself. The Vikings will likely need help at defensive end and cornerback during the next draft cycle. However, evidenced by Spielman’s peek at Strong, Minnesota selecting a franchise quarterback in the 1st Round should be on your radar.
And whoever that man may be – is probably the face of the franchise amid a rebuild.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).