ESPN Projects Vikings Top Roster Need

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

The Minnesota Vikings have seven contests remaining in 2023, equipped with a 6-4 record through 10 games and 85.7% odds to reach the playoffs, per ESPN.

Indeed, the purple team’s season has completely turned around after a gruesome 1-4 start, mainly because the club stopped turning the ball over, and the defense arrived beyond the shadow of a doubt.

ESPN Projects Vikings Top Roster Need

And while the 2023 season hasn’t climaxed, ESPN began peering into the future for all 32 NFL teams, examining top offseason needs via free agency and the 2024 NFL Draft.

ESPN Projects Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

For the Vikings, ESPN’s Matt Miller and Jordan Reid believe the foremost need is clear and evident: a quarterback.

Yes, the club has Kirk Cousins, Josh Dobbs, Jaren Hall, Nick Mullens, and Sean Mannion attached to the roster in November, but that’s not enough for the future, according to the sports media giant. Cousins and Dobbs will be free agents in March, Hall is a developmental passer, and Mullens and Mannion are firmly backup-caliber commodities.

Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports.

Miller wrote about the Vikings quarterback need, “Even before a torn right Achilles cost Kirk Cousins the rest of his season, the Vikings needed to be all-in on quarterback evaluation for the 2024 draft given his free agent status this offseason.”

Typically when a new leadership regime arrives in town, the general manager and head coach eventually pick a quarterback of “their own” from the draft. To date, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell have not used high-round draft capital for that endeavor.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah & Kevin O’Connell Talk Free Agent Moves, Future at Quarterback & 2023 NFL Draft in Eagan, Minnesota, on April 13th, 2023. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell joined the organization in January and February 2022, respectively.

Miller continued, “Cousins could certainly return, and Joshua Dobbs has looked good since joining Minnesota at the trade deadline. But the Vikings will more likely be using a first-round draft pick to find another quarterback to build around.”

The good news? If Miller is correct, the Vikings will have oodles of quarterback options in April. Draft pundits love to excitedly predict, “Wait until you see next year’s quarterback crop,” but the statement is actually true this go-round.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports.

After the recent five-game winning streak, Minnesota will no longer fetch a Top 10 pick. However, the quarterback class is so deep that the Vikings could explore a rookie like Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), Jayden Daniels (LSU), or Bo Nix (Oregon), for example, outside the Top 10.

The Vikings also have comfort in exploring the re-signing of Cousins or Dobbs — or both — so the would-be new guy need not start right away.

If ESPN is inaccurate, Minnesota could also stand to add an EDGE rusher to the depth chart. The franchise hasn’t drafted one with 1st- or 2nd-Round draft capital since 2005.

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,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

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