QB Trend Continues in PFN Mock Draft

University of Kentucky senior quarterback Will Levis has his height, weight and reach checked during Pro Day at Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, Mar. 24, 2023. © Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The week of March 20th, 2023, began in the NFL, and everyone in the mock-draft realm decided the Minnesota Vikings needed a quarterback in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins is under contract through the end of 2023 — and then that’s it, at least for now. That factoid evidently dawned on the draft community, and folks are theorizing a shiny new QB for the Vikings in the 1st Round.

QB Trend Continues in PFN Mock Draft

On Saturday, Pro Football Network became the latest mock draft combatant to follow the trend. PFN’s James Fragoza envisioned the Vikings trading the 23rd and 119th picks in 2023, plus a 2024 2nd-Rounder, to the Houston Texans for the 12th overall pick.

QB Trend Continues
University of Kentucky senior quarterback Will Levis showed his passing form during a Pro Day workout at Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, Mar. 24, 2023. © Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

And with that 12th pick, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah apparently “gets his man” in Kentucky quarterback Will Levis. Fragoza explained, “YOU LIKE THAT? Minnesota Vikings fans might, but Kirk Cousins and his chains wouldn’t. Nevertheless, I think it’s evident Cousins won’t take Minnesota over the hump. And with the analytically-based Kwesi Adofo-Mensah now having a year of GM duties under his belt, it could be time to make a splash play.”

The Vikings haven’t drafted a quarterback in Round 1 since Teddy Bridgewater nine years ago.

“Will Levis has the raw arm talent and overall athleticism to challenge the NFL’s most renowned passers, but he’s nowhere near their level in accuracy, decision-making, or consistency. Let’s see how he develops under Cousins for a year. And who knows, maybe it will spark a fire under the veteran QB — not too dissimilar to what Patrick Mahomes did to Alex Smith,” Fragoza concluded.

Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports.

Only Adofo-Mensah knows if the Vikings are plotting to end the Cousins era. The outcome indeed seems more likely than ever because Minnesota would’ve otherwise extended Cousins beyond 2023 in the last few weeks. Franchise quarterbacks rarely hit the final year of their contract. Adofo-Mensah and Cousins couldn’t reach an agreement — or haven’t yet — signaling the end of Cousins in purple after his age-35 season.

In a mock draft on Thursday, NFL.com’s Charles Davis foresaw Levis falling all the way to the Vikings at No. 23 and wrote, “Finally! Teams picking as high as No. 4 overall will likely consider the big-armed passer from Kentucky, but he lands with QB-friendly coach Kevin O’Connell in Minnesota as the franchise’s signal-caller for the future.”

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis also mock-drafted Levis to Minnesota last week via trade. In that edition, the Vikings had to trade up the No. 7 spot for Levis’ services.

In addition to Levis, Daniel Jeremiah from NFL.com mock-drafted Hendon Hooker from Tennesee to the Vikings in Round 1. That was a classic “reach” pick — before last week, anyway. Right after Jeremiah started the fun, CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso followed suit, mock-drafting Hooker to Minnesota at No. 23 as well.

So, this is the state of play. The Vikings need a WR2 and another starting cornerback. But with Cousins’ future totally uncertain, Adofo-Mensah must draft a QB1 in 2023 or 2024, and some folks believe he’ll cross that off the list in about 4.5 weeks.

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.