Mid-Round QB Prospect “Has Drew Brees in Him”

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The Minnesota Vikings may or may not draft a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, but if they do and wait until after Round 1, they can evidently unearth Drew Brees Jr., figuratively speaking.

Indeed, an alleged Brees-lite candidate is available next week — Fresno State’s Jake Haener.

Mid-Round QB Prospect “Has Drew Brees in Him”

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has created a defacto off-ramp for current QB1 Kirk Cousins, refusing this offseason to extend the 34-year-old beyond the 2023 campaign. If Adofo-Mensah’s decision holds, Cousins will hit free agency in less than 11 months.

And that would mean Minnesota needs a QB1 after Cousins, either drafted from next week’s draft or the 2024 edition. Assuming the Vikings strike out on 1st-Round prospects at their undesirable-for-QB 23rd spot in the draft’s pecking order, perhaps Haener could be “the guy.”

Round QB Prospect
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NFL Network‘s Tom Pelissero published a lengthy article Friday detailing various musings around the league on this draft’s quarterbacks. An anonymous NFC executive told Pelissero about Haener, “I think he’s similar to Gardner Minshew. He’s got some gamer to him, he’s accurate — he just doesn’t have a big arm. But he’s got a little Drew Brees to him. The ball’s going to come out. He knows where he’s going with it. He’s just not a big person (5-11 5/8, 207 pounds), so can he hold up?”

Haener should be obtainable after Round 2 — and probably closer to Round 4 (or after) if draft scouts have his stock pegged accurately.

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Pelissero relayed the thoughts of an unnamed NFL quarterbacks coach, too, “I just like the way he’s wired, and love his play speed. You can see how urgently he plays the game, his feet in the pocket, just very disciplined, very much tied into his eyes and when the ball comes out. Knows where to go with it, diagnoses the defense quickly. Small dude — that’s always going to be an issue. Good athlete. The second half of last year, he’s hobbling around on one leg and so it doesn’t show. But if you see earlier the year before, he had a lot more run production.”

Haener is 5’11” and about 207 pounds, so Brees-ish. He’s applauded for his endurance and toughness, football brain, and accuracy — all dazzling marks for an incoming NFL passer. But there’s a familiar knock on Haener: age. He’ll be 25 by the time the 2023 regular season kicks off, meaning the Vikings, in theory, would begin utilizing the Bulldog at age 26.

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Haener tabulated 9,120 passing yards, 68 touchdown passes, 18 interceptions, and 8 rushing scores in four years at Washington (2018) and Fresno State (2020-2022). His 20-TD to 3-INT split in 2022 was particularly impressive, playing 10 games.

If the Vikings aren’t interested in Haener, other mid-round QB options are available: Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA), Jaren Hall (BYU), Clayton Tune (Houston), and Tanner McKee (Stanford).

Should no team draft Hendon Hooker in Round 1 — like the draft community has suddenly demanded — he, too, could be on the board for Minnesota in Rounds 2-7.

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.