Can the Vikings Pull off the Unthinkable?

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at a Minnesota Timberwolves game in 2022.

Minnesota sports fans have lived through the Herschel Walker and Rudy Gobert trades — both mammoth transactions with unrelenting consequences.

Folks still mourn the Walker trade — and make fun of it — while the Minnesota Timberwolves Gobert swap remains to be determined but isn’t looking good.

Can the Vikings Pull off the Unthinkable?

Fast forward to 34 years away from Herschel Walker and 10 months from Rudy Gobert, and Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah might have another rim-rocking trade brewing.

The club is tied to current QB1 Kirk Cousins for one more season, and then that divisive human is free to sign with any team in free agency — probably the San Francisco 49ers next March. In the meantime, Minnesota has an incredibly rare opportunity, especially by its standards, to “do both.” It can employ Cousins and his 30+ touchdowns in 2023 while letting the next QB mature for one year before taking the keys.

And according to The Draft Network and its sources, the Vikings are evidently serious players via trading up the draftboard Thursday night, if that can be believed. No team has really ever climbed a single draft board from the Vikings spot (Pick No. 23) all the way to the Top 5. The Los Angeles Rams were close in 2016 for Jared Goff but not quite like this.

TDN’s Jaime Eisner is convinced the Vikings will do the unthinkable, hiking up the draft’s pecking order to select Kentucky’s Will Levis.

Can the Vikings Pull
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

For an undisclosed package of draft picks — so, you know, the farm — Eisner spitballed the Vikings trading up 21 ladder planks with the Houston Texans to grab Levis. He wrote in his mock draft, “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 threw 19 touchdowns to 10 interceptions in his final season at Kentucky, playing 11 games.

“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,” Eisner continued.

University of Kentucky senior quarterback Will Levis launched the ball downfield during a Pro Day workout at Nutter Field House in Lexington, Ky., on Friday, Mar. 24, 2023 Jf Uk Pro Day. © Jeff Faughender/Courier Journal and USA Today Network / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Draft placement of Levis has frolicked all over the place — in the Top 3, sliding to the middle of Round 1, ending up with the Vikings organic 23rd pick, and sometimes dipping into the top of Round 2. But the TDN mock does its best to drag Levis back in the Top 2.

Eisner concluded about the humongous Vikings trade, “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.”

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings have additional long-term roster needs at cornerback, off-ball linebacker, wide receiver, and interior defensive line, so it is unclear if trading everything for Levis is prudent. Thursday will provide a verdict.

But more bombastic than ever before, Minnesota exploring a trade-up for the next guy after Cousins seems to be a credible theory.

If not Levis via earth-shattering trade, perhaps Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud is a safer play.

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).

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