Drops Mock Draft Bombshell on Vikings

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If you’re interested in the interworkings of the NFL draft hype machine, Tuesday morning delivered a case study.

Long forecasted to fly off the draft board in Round 3 or so this April, spun a new twist on Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker — the Minnesota Vikings in Round 1. Drops Mock Draft Bombshell on for Vikings

It’s difficult to contemplate with the 2023 NFL Draft five weeks away because Hooker is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last November and is an “old” rookie quarterback at age 25. By the time he’s ready to play for the Vikings — or any team — he’ll be 26 years old and 27 if he reaches the playoffs in 2024.

Drops Mock Draft
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But put those reservations away, as’s Daniel Jeremiah envisions Hooker to Minnesota with the Vikings 23rd pick. Jeremiah explained in his latest mock draft, “The Vikings have been doing their homework on this quarterback class. Hooker is well-liked around the league and he could sit for a year behind Kirk Cousins before taking over and ushering in a new era for Kevin O’Connell.”

Vikings fans were just warming up to the idea of Hooker as the life-after-Cousins plan — via the 3rd Round of the draft (thereabouts). This 1st-Round stuff is a new ball of wax.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) shakes hands with Peyton Manning’s son Marshall Manning before Tennessee’s game against Alabama in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. © Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Cousins has led the Vikings for five seasons, reached the postseason twice, won one playoff game, and ranks fourth leaguewide in touchdown passes since 2018. He’ll get at least one more shot in Minnesota with head coach Kevin O’Connell in charge (barring a shocking trade). And when it’s time to move on, Hooker could apparently be the Vikings solution, albeit at an incredibly high draft price.

If Hooker were 21 with healthy knees, he’d fly off the board in Round 1 — undoubtedly. Yet, he fits neither criterion, age nor health, and accordingly is sourced by most NFL draft brains as a 3rd-Round pick, with a team possibly reaching into Round 2 for his services.

Vikings GM Will Soon
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Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah routinely preaches “value” every time he steps in front of a microphone, and Hooker in Round 1 emphatically does not spell value. However, if he and head coach Kevin O’Connell absolutely adore Hooker, then the 23rd overall pick is a reasonable price to pay.

Jeremiah did this last year, too, sneaking a would-be 3rd Rounder in the 1st Round of a mock draft. One day before the 2022 NFL Draft commenced, Jeremiah plopped Malik Willis into Round 1 with the 32nd pick to the Detroit Lions and wrote, “I could see Willis going in the top 10 or he could land all the way down here at No. 32. His draft range is a great example of what we can be certain about in this draft: absolutely nothing.”

Almost every team in the NFL draft passed on Wilis, the Tennessee Titans took a flyer, and then Willis played horribly as a rookie. He wasn’t even trusted to start a meaningless regular season game down the stretch of the season when Ryan Tannehill was hurt.

Overall, Hooker has all the tools to become a franchise quarterback, rest assured. His list of weaknesses is microscopic. But the age and injuries have frightened general managers and draft pundits to date — until Jeremiah went bold on Tuesday.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

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