The Unthinkable for Vikings Continues in McShay Mock Draft

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Some NFL draft experts believe the Minnesota Vikings appear poised to jump on the rookie quarterback train for the first time in nearly a decade — and it will somehow involve a quarterback who will be 26 years old by the time the 2023 season ends.

Indeed, Hendon Hooker from Tennessee has become all the rage for the Vikings, but it’s no longer a mid-round dream. The man is slithering in 1st Round of mock drafts. Yes, to the Vikings.

The Unthinkable for Vikings Continues in McShay Mock Draft

The trend began about two weeks ago when the world seemed to realize that current QB1 Kirk Cousins wasn’t extended this offseason beyond 2023. A bulk of his 2023 salary was instead converted to cap hits in 2024 or after, and the Vikings are set to roll with Cousins for one more season at minimum, with an apparent exit at the end of 2023.

Folks noticed and have mock-drafted Hooker and Will Levis (Kentucky) to the Vikings in various iterations since. ESPN’s Todd McShay became the latest credible voice to propose Minnesota reaching into the 1st Round Tuesday, choosing Hooker to Minnesota with the 23rd overall pick.

Unthinkable for Vikings
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McShay explained the pick in his mock draft, “The Vikings have quietly been putting in some work on this QB class. Despite the team’s 13-win season, Kirk Cousins was just 23rd in QBR at 49.9. Plus, he’s turning 35 this summer and will be entering the final year of his deal. Sitting behind Cousins for a year to learn the pro game and fully recover from his torn ACL could be the perfect setup for Hooker, who led the nation in QBR last season before the injury (89.5).”

If the Vikings select Hooker in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft, they will pick the second-oldest Round 1 QB ever of the Super Bowl era.

Hooker in the 3rd
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports.

“Hooker is accurate to every level of the field but really thrives throwing deep. Some scouts might be wary of drafting a 25-year-old QB, but he has the talent to lead an NFL offense. I’ve talked to folks with a few teams that even have Hooker above Levis on their internal boards. He has interviewed really well this spring, and the tape is phenomenal. Alternatively, Minnesota could try to get another receiver alongside Justin Jefferson, go back to the cornerback well or bring in another big tight end,” McShay concluded.

The Volunteer could turn out to be fabulous — hopefully he is — but it’s just mind-bending that the Vikings, finally on the brink of ending the Cousins era, would sign up for the services of an “old” rookie quarterback recovering from an ACL tear. The proposal feels like a “we can’t have nice things” situation.

Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports.

If Hooker falls to the 3rd Round — a reasonable spot for a quarterback who will be 26 by the time he’s ready to start in the NFL — great. But do the Vikings really have to be the team to finagle a bizarre solution at quarterback when they’re ready to throw in the towel on a proven passer like Cousins? McShay has no qualms with it.

Hooker tossed 58 touchdown passes to just 5 interceptions in 24 games at Tennessee, so the numbers are there. He has the toolbag to succeed, and the advanced-age concern is chiefly a byproduct of the COVID era.

Serving as the team to reach, however, just feels a bit unthinkable.

Hooker was teammates with Vikings left tackle Christian Darrisaw at Virginia Tech from 2018 to 2020 before Hooker transferred to Tennessee.


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.