Why Promising Rookie QB Could Be a Hard Sell for Vikings

Vikings Have Official Anthony Richardson Odds
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) throws the ball during the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Saturday, October 29, 2022. © Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings might be quarterback shopping for the first time in five years — during this month’s draft or one year from now.

Kirk Cousins wasn’t extended beyond the 2023 season, and at age 35, he may be ending the end of the line in Minnesota. Of course, Cousins could play like a madman [in a good way] this season and command an extension, but that remains to be seen.

Why Promising Rookie QB Could Be a Hard Sell for Vikings

Meanwhile, if the Vikings splash into this year’s rookie quarterback market, one high-flying prospect might be a hard sell — the University of Florida’s Anthony Richardson.

Could Be a Hard Sell
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Richardson could be drafted anywhere from No. 1 overall with the Carolina Panthers to a tumble all the way down the board at the Vikings No. 23 spot, although the latter is unlikely. If general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wants the man badly enough, there’s a way to get him using this year’s and next year’s draft capital via trade.

Yet, if the Vikings choose this draft as the venue for Cousins’ 2024 successor, Richardson may not be at the top of the list. Kevin O’Connell took over as the Vikings as head coach about 14 months ago, and since, he’s touted accuracy as the top trait he seeks in a quarterback.

Quiet Contender
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) scrambles with the ball during the second half against the Eastern Washington Eagles at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Sunday, October 2, 2022. © Matt Pendleton / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Among the 2023 draft class’ Big Four — C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Richardson — the Gator isn’t the one known for accuracy.

O’Connell told Pro Football Talk one year ago, “I really do believe having attempted to play quarterback in this league myself and not ultimately achieving that goal because of the fact I wasn’t accurate enough as a quarterback. I think the number one for me now that I look at veteran quarterbacks, rookie quarterbacks, I evaluate them throughout any process is they need to be naturally accurate.”

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Richardson completed 53.8% of his passes in his final season at Florida, will 17 touchdown passes and 9 interceptions to show for it. Folks high on Richardson evidently believe his accuracy will “even out” when he reaches the NFL, a strange prognosis for a league even more competitive than the NCAA.

“Being a naturally accurate quarterback is something that I feel is the number one requirement for playing in this league, especially with the playmakers that we have,” O’Connell opined.

So — ask yourself — is the head coach who pounds the pavement for accuracy, on his own accord and his definition of the ideal passer, really going to sign on for the services of the one inaccurate 1st-Round prospect in the NFL draft? If so, he’d walk back everything on the record for an exception.

Vikings Have Official
Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) salutes while carrying a bag of Skittles in his mouth while walking on Steve Spurrier-Florida Field during Gator Walk at Steve Spurrier Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday, September 10, 2022. © Doug Engle / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Should Richardson fall to No. 23 — unlikely — and the Vikings can draft him outright without any trade package, perhaps pulling the trigger and praying for accuracy about-face would be easier to stomach.

Otherwise, if you’re “Team Richardson” for the Vikings future QB1, you’re basically hoping O’Connell has been making stuff as he goes along — because he’s already endorsed the one characteristic Richardson isn’t known for as his decided factor.

The NFL draft is 25 days away.

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.