PFF Has a Bold ‘Shots Fired’ Moment for Vikings Draft Season

The Minnesota Vikings “second season” starts Sunday versus the New York Giants, but because 18 NFL teams have been eliminated from the “first season,” mock draft season has arrived.

And in a bold move out of the gate, Pro Football Focus theorizes a quarterback for the Vikings with the team’s first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft — Tanner McKee from Stanford.

PFF Has a Bold
Oct 16, 2021; Pullman, Washington, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee (18) takes the snap during a game against the Washington State Cougars in the first half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

PFF’s first mock draft of 2023 was highlighted by an Indianapolis Colts trade to grab the No. 1 overall pick, where Chris Ballard seized Bryce Young, a quarterback from Alabama. All told, PFF’s Michael Renner predicted five quarterbacks to fly off the board in Round 1 — Bryce Young (Colts), Will Levis (Texans), C.J. Stroud (Raiders), Anthony Richardson (Panthers), and Tanner McKee (Vikings).

PFF Has a Bold ‘Shots Fired’ Moment for Vikings Draft Season

The McKee-to-Vikings transaction is particularly noteworthy because the 1st Round for him — at least at this point in the draft cycle — would be a stretch. Various mock-draft outfits plop McKee somewhere between Round 2 through 6. To date, he isn’t considered a bonafide 1st-Rounder, making the Vikings case for a relationship a bit odd.

Oct 2, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee (18) calls out plays to his teammates during the second quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Renner wrote about McKee to Minnesota, “General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is tied to Kirk Cousins for only one more season, and the Vikings’ roster is too good to where they won’t be getting the pick of the litter in a draft anytime soon. That could mean taking advantage of a deep quarterback class to start a year early on developing Cousins’ successor.”

Indeed, Cousins turns 35 this summer and could play wonderfully for 4 to 6 more years — or encounter a Roethlisbergerian or Breesian decline at any moment. That’s how it goes for aging NFL players. The end is flexible and undetermined.

“McKee is one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the draft class but was put in a lot of unwinnable situations on tape at Stanford,” Renner opined.

Nov 19, 2022; Berkeley, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah routinely talks about “value” when adjudicating free agents or rookies, and drafting a quarterback not forecasted by most as 1st-Round talent would seem off-brand for the young executive. If the Vikings were to make 2023 the year they select Cousins’ replacement, it might involve a splashy trade up the draft board or selection of a man like McKee in the 3rd Round or so.

At Stanford as a sophomore and junior, McKee quarterbacked 22 Cardinal games, tallying 5,274 passing yards and 28 touchdowns to 15 interceptions. McKee is known for his arm talent, is not overly mobile like many coaches crave in the modern NFL, and is a throwback to the “traditional” style of a pocket passer.

Adofo-Mensah must get the 1st-Round pick right as the Vikings don’t have a 2nd-Rounder in the 2023 NFL Draft. They used that to land T.J. Hockenson from the Detroit Lions two months ago.

The NFL draft begins on April 27th in Kansas City.

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).