Draft Expert Received Texts about Vikings and a 1st-Round QB

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The 2023 Vikings draft is unpredictable. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be in charge of his second career draft on Thursday, April 27, when the first-round kicks off. Minnesota is in play for many different positions because the roster has more holes than in the past.

The most likely scenarios are the selection of a replacement for Adam Thielen, a difference-maker on the defensive line, or another cornerback. However, no one should be shocked if Adofo-Mensah addresses a different position with his top pick.

Draft Expert Received Texts About Vikings and a 1st-Round QB

Draft Expert Received Texts About Vikings and a 1st-Round QB
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) drags South Alabama inside linebacker Ke’Shun Brown (35) with him toward the end zone during a football game against South Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Kns Tennessee South Alabam Football Bp

There has been a lot of buzz about the Vikings selecting Hendon Hooker with the 23rd overall pick. Fans of the purple team are split. Many like the move for a new QB, but Hooker is not the guy they want.

The Vikings are in the market for a passer because Kirk Cousins’ contract hasn’t been extended. He’s entering the final season of his contract for the first time in his tenure with the Vikings. For that reason, he is expected to be replaced as the Vikings starting quarterback one year from now after his departure in free agency. Of course, he could still receive an extension next year.

Minnesota owns the 23rd overall pick, probably too late for one of the consensus top-four QBs in this class. Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson are all expected to be gone when the Vikings are on the clock, and a trade could be pricey.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker during Tennessee Football Pro Day at the Anderson Training Facility in Knoxville, Tenn., on Thursday, March 30, 2023. © Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

ESPN’s Matt Miller, one of the most meaningful draft experts, expects the Vikings to be in on Hooker.

One of the most popular texts I’ve gotten from evaluators throughout the past 10 days has been some form of “Watch the Vikings for Hendon Hooker.” That could be NFL scouts connecting dots, but the Round 1 talk for Hooker has been red hot since the combine and the Vikings do make sense for the dynamic passer. With Kirk Cousins set to hit free agency following the 2023 season at age 35, finding his replacement should be a priority.

Matt Miller, ESPN

The Vikings make sense because they will draft in the area when many people expect Hooker to hear his name called, and the team is looking for a new passer. Drafting a QB one year too early is a smart move because the rookie wouldn’t be forced to play immediately and can work on some of his weaknesses without the extra spotlight as a starting QB.

Hooker will need to adjust to the spacing of the NFL after playing in the tempo spread at Tennessee, but he’s accurate and mobile, and he throws a beauty of a deep ball.

Matt Miller, ESPN

Hooker played in a one-read offense in Tennesee, which is why many have downgraded him in the pre-draft process. He was not asked to do a lot of full-field reads. His task was to decide which of the two receivers on one side of the field was open and throw him the ball. His accuracy, athleticism, and deep ball ability are plus points for him.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

However, there are some red flags. The two biggest ones are thrown around ad nauseam. He is 25 years old. Most draft prospects are in the range of 21-23. When he sits for a year behind Cousins, he’ll be 26 years old in his first start in 2024. If he’s good, he’ll still have a 10-year career, and the Vikings are set at QB for a decade, but the bigger problem is his potential. As a 25-year-old rookie, he won’t have the same room to grow as someone four years younger. Miller also wrote about Hooker’s potential:

As for Hooker’s ceiling, one NFL quarterbacks coach I spoke to said he believes he can be a top-15 starter. “Look at [Jared] Goff, Geno Smith, Cousins … he has better all-around tools than those guys. The right system will help, but from a talent perspective, he can be a top-half-of-the-league guy.

A top-15 starter is not what teams seek in a league dominated by elite-level QBs. The next Patrick Mahomes, or at least the next Justin Herbert, should be the goal when drafting a quarterback.

Regardless, it is not easy to find that guy. Even finding a quarterback like Cousins or Goff isn’t easy. Top QB prospects often completely bust and are low-end starters or worse. The Vikings play in a division with a team that drafted Mitchell Trubisky second overall after trading up for him. Sam Darnold was considered a sure thing in 2018 and is already on his third team. And the same argument can be flipped, who expected Brock Purdy to be that good, and who expected Kirk Cousins to be a four-time Pro Bowler? Nobody knows the ceiling of QBs in the draft.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) greets fans during the Vol Walk before a game between the Tennessee Vols and Florida Gators, in Neyland Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. © Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Hooker’s tools are intriguing. He has the size, speed, decision-making, and arm talent to be a good quarterback in the league. If he is really worth the 23rd overall pick is a call the Vikings’ decision-makers have to make. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are getting paid for exactly that decision, a decision that can change the future of the organization.

We won’t know if Hooker is really worth that first-round pick until he has played a couple of seasons. There are many reasons why Hooker shouldn’t be a first-rounder, especially the ACL and the age, but even if he’s the pick, folks should stay calm and trust the duo in charge.

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