MJD Is the Latest to Do the QB Thing for Vikings

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 NFL Draft is just one week away, and folks are sharpening their predictions for the Minnesota Vikings — and every other team in the league.

Minnesota has long-term roster needs at cornerback, off-ball linebacker, wide receiver, and perhaps quarterback, so draft forecasts are, quite frankly, all over the place.

MJD Is the Latest to Do the QB Thing for Vikings

Recently, though, mock-draft heads have settled on a popular theory for the Vikings and their No. 23 pick — quarterback Hendon Hooker from Tennessee.

MJD Is the Latest
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports.

Former NFL running back turned NFL.com analyst Maurice Jones-Drew was the latest to manifest Hooker to the Vikings, revealing a 1st-Round mock draft Thursday. He envisioned Minnesota passing on Brian Branch (S, Alabama), Calijah Kancey (DT, Pittsburgh), and Bryan Bresee (DT, Clemson) in favor of Hooker, who would be 26 years old before taking over the Vikings QB1 duties.

Jones-Drew wrote the Vikings pick, “Hooker gets a redshirt year to get completely healthy and learn behind Kirk Cousins before becoming QB1 and leading Kevin O’Connell’s offense.”

Maurice Jones-Drew
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hooker would presumably run the Vikings ship in September of 2024 if this idea came to fruition and be 27 years old during his first playoff game if Minnesota reaches the postseason in the same season.

Before Hooker transferred to the Tennessee Volunteers, he played for Virginia Tech, Christian Darrisaw’s alma matter. Hooker didn’t play much in 2018 but took off in 2019 and 2020, which were Darrisaw’s final two seasons as a Hokie. The year Darrisaw joined the Vikings, in 2021, Hooker became a Volunteer and rose to stardom, diming 58 touchdown passes to just 5 interceptions in 24 games at the school.

Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hooker tore his ACL last November, though, and will be 26 by the time the 2023 regular season ends, dropping the enthusiasm on his draft candidacy to possibly Rounds 2 through 7. If he was 21 and uninjured — so, an alternate universe — Hooker would probably create a “Big Five” group of quarterbacks in this draft class.

It’s unclear if Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will take a flyer on Hooker in Round 1, mainly because his draft stock was Round 3 [or so] about six weeks ago. Somewhere along the line, mock-draft savants decided Hooker was worthy of a Round 1 pick, and he’s pretty much been drafted to Minnesota — and only Minnesota — in Round 1 since. Adofo-Mensah often preaches “value” in front of a microphone, so a 3rd-Round prospect in the 1st Round feels a bit off-kilter. We shall see.

According to sportsbooks, the Vikings lead the way for “What team will draft Hooker?” odds. The Detroit Lions, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fill out the Top 5 for theorized Hooker landing spots.

The Vikings haven’t drafted a player from the University of Tennessee in 10 years — Cordarrelle Patterson.

Hooker is older than Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love and Los Angeles’ Justin Herbert.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.