Latest Vikings Draft Gossip Is Totally Crazy but Exciting

Lottery Ticket QB
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The time leading up to the NFL Draft is the most fascinating in the NFL year because nobody knows what will happen. Teams and agents try to spread rumors that help them, but many rumblings are just smokescreens.

Minnesota is a perfect team to use for those rumors. The team is apparently planning to move on from quarterback Kirk Cousins. They haven’t extended his contract. For that reason, they are in the market for a quarterback. There are thousands of mock drafts. Some of them have the Vikings pick a QB, and most view Hendon Hooker as the target, simply because he is expected to be available when the Vikings are on the clock.

Latest Vikings Draft Gossip Is Totally Crazy but Exciting

The purple team will be on the clock with the 23rd overall pick. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be in charge of the second draft in his career. Most folks in the Vikings community expect a trade down and the selection of a defensive tackle, cornerback, or wide receiver. But one person in NFL media has a totally different idea, and it’s a crazy one.

Latest Vikings Draft Gossip Is Totally Crazy But Exciting
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.

Draft analyst Jamie Eisner from The Draft Network released his latest mock draft on Sunday, and his theory for the Vikings is fascinating. He has the purple team trading up to the second overall pick to select Kentuck’s QB, Will Levis:

Surprise! You may have seen the betting odds change for the No. 2 overall pick on Saturday, with Will Levis becoming the odds-on favorite. But I don’t think that’s because the Texans are taking him. I’ve heard loud rumblings that Minnesota is very active in trying to trade up for a quarterback and I think they will pull off a blockbuster here. Levis will succeed Kirk Cousins after the Vikings chose not to extend the latter beyond this season.

There is a major disconnect between how fans and those inside the NFL view Will Levis. Don’t get me wrong, there are several people in the NFL who are uninterested in drafting Levis this high, but there are plenty who believe he is absolutely worth the cost with the upside to be the best passer in the class when it’s all said and done.

There’s a lot to unpack here. The betting odds for the second overall pick have changed, and the Texans have the rights to that pick. Reports suggest the Texans aren’t interested in any QB prospects other than Bryce Young, who is expected to be the first overall pick. For that reason, the top defensive stars, especially Will Anderson, were favored to go off the board.

Betting odds shouldn’t be viewed as flawless, but the odds-makers usually know more than the average person. That’s how they make money. Just a year ago, the odds flipped to Travon Walker as the first overall pick a couple of weeks before the draft, and those odds were correct. If the odds are right and the Texans really don’t want a QB, a trade would be the logical explanation.

Open for Business
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Another logical thing is that the still somewhat new regime of the Vikings, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell, are in their second offseason with the franchise, want to find their guy at the quarterback position after inheriting Cousins last year.

That’s the usual procedure when new decision-makers take over. They want to identify their guy, pick him, groom him into a star, and earn the benefits. The duo hasn’t extended Cousins’ deal, so the next guy can take over one year from now. Sitting a year behind the veteran makes sense. The rookie could quietly develop and learn. In the NFL world, folks know that sounds like what the Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes, the best player in the league. Things that work are likely to be copied in the NFL.

Levis is a polarizing prospect. Some are convinced he’s the second coming of Josh Allen because he has the arm strength and athleticism, while others think he’ll be a total bust.

Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

He has Allen-like arm strength and can sling the ball easily and effortlessly 60 yards down the field. His rushing numbers weren’t anything special in college, but he has the athleticism to be unlocked in that area of his game. Levis has also shown some inconsistency in terms of accuracy that must be addressed before he can be an effective NFL quarterback.

In the last two seasons as the starter in Kentucky, Levis recorded 43 passing touchdowns and 23 interceptions. He also added 11 rushing scores. The numbers don’t look great, but he has done that behind a suspect offensive line without great weapons to throw to in the tough SEC.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

It would be a massive gamble for Adofo-Mensah to pull off that kind of trade. Actually, it is entirely unprecedented. In recent draft history, no team has traded up from as far down as the Vikings are into the top 5 to pick a player. It just doesn’t happen. The two closest are Patrick Mahomes to the Chiefs — the organization traded up from 27 to 10, and Josh Allen. The Bills went up from 21 to 7 to get him.

Another trade that deserves mention is Jared Goff’s 2016 draft selection. The Rams traded up from 15 to secure the first overall pick. Outside of quarterbacks, Julio Jones was drafted by the Falcons, who traded up all the way from 27 to 6.

The trade would cost the Vikings their next three first-round picks and some change. It will be a costly transaction, and we can’t determine if the deal was a win or a loss before we know how good Levis is. If Levis turns into Josh Allen 2.0, nobody would ever care about a trade compensation, and the Vikings would be an annual contender, but if he turns into Mitchell Trubisky 2.0, the Vikings would be a laughing stock.

Will Levis Week
Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

The deal is risky and requires a lot of boldness because it’s so unprecedented. If one person pulls off the trade, it would probably be a former Wall Street Trader, and the Vikings employ one of those in the position of the general manager.

The selection of a quarterback is the funniest thing an organization can do. Vikings fans will most likely experience that in the next couple of drafts.

Eisner’s move is a fun exercise for draft brains, but the likelihood of it becoming reality is close to zero. If one of the top quarterbacks falls to pick ten, Adofo-Mensah might pick up his phone and replicate a Mahomes trade, but the second overall pick is too far away to even think about it.

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