The Vikings Need a Quarterback at the Right Time

The Minnesota Vikings drafted in the back third of the 2023 NFL Draft and opted against picking Kirk Cousins’ eventual replacement. They’ll need to find that quarterback in the coming months, and if it’s not Jaren Hall, then the 2024 NFL Draft could be right up their alley.

The Vikings Need a Quarterback at the Right Time

In the 2023 NFL regular season, head coach Kevin O’Connell will roll with Kirk Cousins as the starter and veteran Nick Mullens as his backup. BYU standout and fifth-round draft pick Jaren Hall is the guy to develop. O’Connell will get plenty of opportunity to see him in practice, and the hope would be that Minnesota doesn’t endure another Mike Zimmer-Kellen Mond scenario. If it’s not Hall, though, it’s a good time to figure it out.

Quarterback at the Right
Aug 3, 2023; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell and owner Ziggy Wilf talk at training camp at TCO Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Extending Cousins on another one-year deal for 2024 makes some sense. Minnesota will be able to accommodate a gaudy quarterback contract again, even while paying Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson. They’ll need someone under center on a rookie deal before they hand out big money to left tackle Christian Darrisaw.

Enter the 2024 NFL quarterback draft class.

The Vikings could be in position to win the NFC North again, even while the Detroit Lions are seen as favorites. It is equally plausible that the close victories of 2022 show holes, and they wind up with a losing record in year two under O’Connell. No matter the outcome, there should be plenty of players to like in any position they’ll find themselves drafting.

USC’s Caleb Williams is seen as the top quarterback prospect with the season starting. With the Arizona Cardinals not trying and many other teams worse than Minnesota, it’s unlikely that the Vikings will be in the running for his services. From there, though, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could position himself to take whatever quarterback is deemed his guy.

Dec 28, 2022; San Diego, CA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) looks to pass against the Oregon Ducks during the first quarter of the 2022 Holiday Bowl at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports.

North Carolina, not a prototypical college powerhouse, has a star signal-caller in Drake Maye. He should be the highest quarterback selected from the school since Mitch Trubiski. He’ll be in the conversation atop the draft with Williams. Those may be the only two quarterbacks off the table for Minnesota, however.

Oregon’s Box Nix feels like he has been in college forever, and after playing five years in college, that’s not entirely wrong. He will be 24, though, which may be older than some teams would like to commit to. Sliding into the middle of the first round could be a definite possibility, and that’s an area where Minnesota could find themselves picking.

Beyond the top three as the college season kicks off, there’s an incredible amount of talent at the position. Also from the Pac-12, Michael Penix Jr. should shine this year for Washington. Duke has a star in Riley Leonard, and Quinn Ewers is the big name ahead of star Texas recruit Arch Manning. Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is highly regarded, as is Florida State’s Jordan Travis. LSU has a star under center in Jayden Daniels, and any other number of power five conference quarterbacks could jump up.

The dark horse may be the most fun name on the board in Colorado’s Shedeur Sanders. The hype train following Deion Sanders from Jacksonville State to the Buffaloes has been unprecedented. What his quarterback and son did against TCU in Week 1 of the college football season won’t stop things anytime soon. Shadeur put up video game numbers against the national championship runner-up and should thrive in the Pac-12.

Jackson State Tigers quarterback Shedeur Sanders (2) throws the ball as Alabama State Hornets takes on Jackson State Tigers at ASU Stadium in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2022. Jackson State Tigers defeated Alabama State Hornets. © Jake Crandall/ Advertiser / USA TODAY NETWORK.

It remains to be seen how far Sanders can climb in the quarterback prospect rankings by season’s end, but a dynamic player with both his arm and legs could represent a changing of the guard in Minnesota. The Vikings haven’t had a dual threat in quite some time, and Sanders’ excitement with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison may be unmatched.

Minnesota needs to find a successor for Cousins in the next 12 months, and if there’s a time for them to be searching, it couldn’t be better. They’ll need to nail the decision, but the ability to cast a wide net at the quarterback position hasn’t been this good in quite some time.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.