Former No. 1 Draft Pick Hits Waivers, a Cautionary Tale for Vikings Fans

Nov 27, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) looks on during pregame warmups against the Denver Broncos at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Baker Mayfield’s 2022 football season has been tumultuous, to say the least. The former No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 Draft requested a trade from the Cleveland Browns this offseason after they acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.

Ultimately, it was the Carolina Panthers who made the trade to acquire him, giving the Browns a conditional fifth-round pick for the begrudged QB. Now, five months later after losing his starting job, the Panthers announced on Monday that they are waiving Mayfield.

In six starts this season, Mayfield went 1-5 with the Panthers, passing for 1313 yards, 6 TDs, and 6 INTs. In his stead, it has been a combination of P.J. Walker and Sam Darnold getting starts for Carolina.

Overall, we could probably look at the Panthers QB room as a whole as a cautionary tale for the Minnesota Vikings and its fanbase. Over the past couple years, there have been many chomping at the bit for Minnesota to find a QB replacement for Kirk Cousins. These rumbles become shouts when draft season rolls around.

Well, Darnold and Mayfield were two of the top three picks in the 2018 Draft. Just four seasons later, neither of them have found themselves on the teams that drafted them, and now, the No. 1 overall pick Mayfield is looking for his third team in five seasons.

Oftentimes, drafting QBs in the top five picks has not worked out for teams in recent history. Since 2018, here are the QBs to be taken that highly in the first round:

  • Baker Mayfield (2018)
  • Sam Darnold (2018)
  • Kyler Murray (2019)
  • Joe Burrow (2020)
  • Tua Tagovailoa (2020)
  • Trevor Lawrence (2021)
  • Zach Wilson (2021)
  • Trey Lance (2021)

Obviously, Burrow and Tagovailoa have proven to be excellent draft picks. The jury is still out on the 2021 Draft class as well, although the Zach Wilson situation appears dire in New York. That said, Mayfield, Darnold, and Murray have turned into a total of one playoff victory.

History seems to suggest that, unless there’s a clear QB at the top of a class (i.e. Joe Burrow in 2020 and Trevor Lawrence in 2021), using a top-end draft pick on a QB hasn’t worked out as well as these teams have hoped.

Because of that, especially given that the Vikings will likely land in the mid-to-late 20s, or even in the 30s in 2023, it may be ill-advised for Minnesota to move significant capital in order to draft a QB during this draft cycle.

If a prospect falls to the Vikings late in the first round, perhaps an Anthony Richardson, it could be great value to draft a QB there, even if he only pans out to be a top 10-15 player at the position.

However, moving oodles of draft capital to take a QB in the top half of the first round may land the Vikings in the same situation that some of these previous teams like the Browns, Cardinals, and Jets have found themselves in. Especially given Kirk Cousins clutch play throughout this season, the best option for the Vikings may be to continue running it back with their current QB1.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. He also earned minors in History, Human Biology, and Journalism. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys marathon training, playing video games, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. For more of his opinions, check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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