Vikings Go QB Route Again in Latest CBS Sports Mock Draft

Vikings Go QB Route Again in Latest CBS Sports Mock Draft
Malik Willis

The Minnesota Vikings employ a quarterback accountable for north of 4,000 passing yards, 34 touchdowns, and seven interceptions in 2021. His name is Kirk Cousins, and some fans and pundits see that production and claim, “Not good enough for the Vikings.”

That puts Cousins in the middle of trade speculation, possibly landing with a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, or New Orleans Saints this offseason. And if Cousins is traded, Minnesota will need a quarterback if it does not trust the 22-year-old Kellen Mond with the enterprise. Mike Zimmer sure didn’t.

For the second notable time, a credible mock draft links quarterback Malik Willis from Liberty to the Vikings. Minnesota has the 12th selection in the 2022 NFL Draft, and left up to Josh Edwards from CBS Sports, the Vikings will have a shiny new passer.

Dec 26, 2020; Orlando, FL, USA; Liberty Flames quarterback Malik Willis (7) looks to pass the ball during the second quarter against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers during the Cure Bowl at Camping World Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Edward briefly summarized Willis to the Vikings:

“Minnesota has gone the route of cleaning house by moving on from Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman. There is no indication of who the next regime will be or what it might do in the draft, but it is reasonable to think it may want a fresh start at quarterback as well.”

In this mock draft, Willis was the third quarterback off the board after Matt Corral was chosen for the Denver Broncos and Kenny Pickett landed with the Washington Football Team. No more quarterbacks were selected in the 1st Round after Willis to the Vikings.

Willis would spell a brand new epoch for Minnesota, presumably ending the Cousins era — or utilizing Cousins as the most productive [and expensive] patchover passer in the history of football. Plus, in the event of a Cousins trade before the draft — it would likely occur beforehand — Minnesota would probably obtain a 1st or 2nd-Round pick as compensation. A junior rebuild, indeed.

Willis, as a collegiate commodity, is everything Cousins is not — fast and mobile, familiar with a run-heavy RPO offense. Does that sound like Cousins? Emphatically, no. Even though Willis is spitballed as a 1st-Round asset, most draft brains perceive him as a developmental-style quarterback — less raw than the aforementioned Mond.

The Draft Network likens Willis’ skillset with Jordan Love, the QB2 for the Green Bay Packers.

If the Vikings select a passer in Round 1, they’ll try to remedy history. The last couple of quarterbacks plucked in the 1st Round — Christian Ponder and Teddy Bridgewater — didn’t pan out for different reasons. Daunte Culpepper was the last Minnesota quarterback from the 1st Round to thrive.

The NFL draft takes place on April 28th.

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).