Top QB Could Fall to Vikings According to New Draft Theory

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

A new franchise quarterback has to be found in the next couple of years by the Minnesota Vikings, especially the new regime around head coach Kevin O’Connell and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be in the spotlight. It will be their most important task to find their guy.

The organization didn’t extend the contract of QB Kirk Cousins this offseason, and its draft position is not ideal for finding the next guy in line. While it is possible to pick a future superstar passer with the 23rd selection, the franchise has to pick one of the leftovers. The top signal callers will likely be gone by that point.

Top QB Could Fall to Vikings According to New Draft Theory

Top QB Could Fall to Vikings According to New Draft Theory
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah has to pull off a trade to get one of the top guys in the draft. It’s almost the consensus opinion that there are four tier-one QBs in the 2023 draft, including Alabama’s Bryce Young, the betting favorite to be picked first overall, Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, a passer with prototypical size who is regarded as the safest prospect, Kentucky’s Will Levis who has a canon of an arm and great size but some accuracy issues, and Anthony Richardson, a Flordia Gator with rare athletic ability but inconsistent throwing results.

The thought process of most was that all four would be drafted inside the top 10, maybe even in or close to the top 5. That, of course, is too early for the Vikings to make a move and trade up for one of them. It is simply too expensive. When one of the guys falls, however, there is an opportunity for the decision-makers of the purple team to get their guy.

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ESPN’s draft analyst Todd McShay believes Richardson is that guy who will be available way later than anyone expects, as he told on a podcast appearance on The Ryan Russillo Podcast:

“It will not surprise me at all if we get to pick 12 and he (Anthony Richardson) is still on the board,” McShay said.

Richardson is a controversial prospect. His tools, especially his athleticism, are off the charts at an elite NFL level. The problem is that he started only 13 games in college and is a raw player from a passing standpoint. He needs time to develop into a QB who can read the field better and get a feel for the game. That will only come with experience. However, his throwing motion needs to be addressed. He simply misses too many throws, including easy ones like screen passes or simple checkdowns in the flat.

Richardson will be an explosive running threat early in his career. He can be a Justin Fields-type runner, a player who can rush for 1,000 yards in a season. That gives him a higher floor than most pocket passers have.

The timeline in Minnesota is interesting. Of course, Kirk Cousins is the starter in 2023. Richardson can improve his football understanding by listening to Kevin O’Connell in meetings and watching Cousins prepare. After the Vikings move on next offseason, Richardson would take over, and his on-field developmental year happens.

Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) warms up before the game against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on Sunday, October 2, 2022. [Matt Pendleton/Gainesville Sun. USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Vikings will probably not be a contender with Richardson under center in the first season. He first needs to gain the aforementioned experience to learn the flow of the game and things like executing the proper pre-snap reads and getting to know the playbook.

After his learning season, he can hit the ground running in his third NFL campaign in 2025. His potential is absurd. Quarterbacks don’t run a 4.4 40-yard dash. NFL players, in general, rarely run 4.4 at over 240 pounds. His combine workout numbers look similar to Micah Parson’s, the elite edge rusher from the Dallas Cowboys who has supernatural athleticism to offer.

Regardless, Richardson is not only a rushing quarterback. His best throws can match up with any passer in the NFL or the draft. He is capable of making elite throws. The problem is consistency.

If he can put it all together and come even close to his potential, Richardson will be an elite quarterback and probably the most exciting one in the NFL. The big question is if he can reach that ceiling. Richardson is a boom-or-bust prospect, he might be absolutely incredible, but he could also turn out a bust.

No Love for Kevin
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah are getting paid to make those kinds of decisions. If they think he’s their guy, they shouldn’t hesitate to move up and grab him before someone else does. However, they can select a quarterback later in the draft if he isn’t their guy. Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker is viewed as a potential Vikings target with the 23rd overall pick.

Trading up into the range of the 12th overall pick would cost the Vikings at least their 23rd selection and an additional first-round pick, but that is an acceptable price for the next franchise QB. If he hits, nobody will ever talk about the cost like no one is ever bringing up the extra first-rounder the Chiefs gave up for Patrick Mahomes.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt