The Vikings Dream Scenario at QB in Draft

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) and Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18) walk around the stadium prior to the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. © Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The NFL draft is habitually stuffed to the gills with surprises, and if one falls the Minnesota Vikings way, the franchise could land its quarterback of the future.

For now, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah owns the 23rd overall pick, a rotten spot to land the next QB1, as Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson are predicted to be long gone by then,

The Vikings Dream Scenario at QB in Draft

The Vikings also employ a quarterback on the final year of his contract, Kirk Cousins. The soon-to-be 35-year-old is not committed to the club after 2024, although Adofo-Mensah is guaranteed to eat a dead cap of $28.5 million in Cousins’ salary no matter what if Cousins departs after the 2023 campaign.

In preparing for “the next guy” at QB, April’s draft might be the spot to pick a newcomer. Otherwise, Adofo-Mensah can re-sign Cousins beyond 2023 — he probably would’ve done by now if Cousins was the long-term plan — or draft a passer in the 2024 NFL Draft. However, if Minnesota does draft the Cousins succession plan in five weeks, the dream scenario involves C.J. Stroud tumbling a bit and Adofo-Mensah trading up.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

Disclaimer: This is a longshot because Stroud likely won’t tumble, but it’s called a ‘dream scenario for a reason. After all, no one expected Daniel Jones to fly off the board at pick No. 6 in 2019, nor did folks believe Aaron Rodgers would tumble to No. 24 in 2005.

For starters, here’s the draft order as of March 21st:

1) Carolina Panthers (from Chicago)
2) Houston Texans
3) Arizona Cardinals
4) Indianapolis Colts
5) Seattle Seahawks (from Denver)
6) Detroit Lions (from L.A. Rams)
7) Las Vegas Raiders
8) Atlanta Falcons
9) Chicago Bears (from Carolina)
10) Philadelphia Eagles (from New Orleans)
11) Tennessee Titans
12) Houston Texans (from Cleveland)

Here’s how the dream scenario would work: Foremost, the Carolina Panthers hold the No. 1 overall pick thanks to a juicy trade with the Chicago Bears. On Tuesday, former Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis said about his old team’s 2023 draft plan, “I just think that he’s gonna come in and he would fit well in Carolina if they were gonna draft him — but like you said, DJ — I don’t think that he’s gonna be their pick. I think it’s gonna be a very, very surprising pick in Carolina.”

Read the tea leaves — that is probably Carolina hoping to recreate the Cam Newton era with Anthony Richardson, a Newtonesque quarterback from Florida. Indeed, it’s a large assumption, but let’s roll with it.

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.

Thereafter, the Texans strike on Bryce Young from Alabama — not a wild turn of events. The Colts, a QB-needy team, select Will Levis from Kentucky as their QB1 for the topsy-turvy post-Andrew-Luck era.

Then, C.J. Stroud, for a series of moments, is orphaned in NFL-speak. He’s been bypassed by the Panthers, Texans, and Colts. The Seahawks, Lions, or Raiders could theoretically pounce on Stroud, but if they do not — stranger things have happened — Adofo-Mensah hops in the saddle with an itchy trigger finger.

He’d have to gamble and bypass whichever team he presumes will select Stroud — Seattle, Detroit, or Las Vegas — but it can be done. Of course, a trade that far up the board for Stroud will require considerable draft capital. Again, though, who really cares if it’s for Stroud, who could solidify QB1 in Minnesota for 8+ years? Nobody would care, in fact.

Dec 31, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback C.J. Stroud (7) runs away from the pocket to throw a touchdown pass to Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (18), not in photo, against Georgia Bulldogs during the first quarter of the Peach Bowl in the College Football Playoff semifinal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. © Kyle Robertson/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Generally speaking, this scenario is unlikely, and Stroud will become a Panther or Texan with predictable fanfare. Yet, because the draft can be so beserk, the possibility exists, especially with Panthers already appearing to embrace the unexpected.

To recap, here’s the theory:

  1. Carolina selects Anthony Richardson.
  2. Houston goes with Bryce Young.
  3. Indianapolis drafts Will Levis.
  4. The Vikings trade somewhere between picks 5 and 10 for Stroud.

It would sure splash Adofo-Mensah’s Vikings into the post-Cousins era — with a watch-and-learn year for Stroud.


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.