The Vikings Have a Major Hurdle in Caleb Williams Sweepstakes

Sep 23, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) looks on against the Arizona State Sun Devils during the second half at Mountain America Stadium, Home of the ASU Sun Devils. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Sitting sorrowfully with a 1-4 record through five weeks, the 2023 Minnesota Vikings and the team’s fans can peer at the Caleb Williams Sweepstakes in good faith.

The Vikings Have a Major Hurdle in Caleb Williams Sweepstakes

Doing so two months ago would’ve been laughable, but after a miserable start to the season, Minnesota owns the type of record needed to fetch fancy draft capital for next April.

Have a Major Hurdle
USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) during the pregame warmup before playing the Arizona State Sun Devils at Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Sept. 23, 2023. © Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK.

There’s one major hurdle in the Vikings way, though, in possibly landing Williams in the 2024 NFL Draft — the Chicago Bears.

For context, Williams has set the collegiate world on fire in the last couple of years, almost guaranteed to become the first overall pick in six months. He’s that good and has actually earned comparisons to Andrew Luck and Trevor Lawrence. Some team will land the first overall pick and use it to select Williams, perhaps setting its course toward prosperity for the next decade-plus.

Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) in action during the game between the USC Trojans and the Tulane Green Wave in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.

But for that to be the Vikings, a team employing a QB1 on an expiring contract, several things must occur. And they’re not easily surmountable.

Foremost, the Bears must start winning games at a pace more accelerated than the Vikings. That’s step one. Minnesota and Chicago share gloomy 1-4 records, and if the Vikings want Williams, the Bears must finish with a better 2023 record than the Vikings.

After that, it gets even murkier. Thanks to a 2023 draft trade, Chicago also owns the Carolina Panthers 1st-Round pick in 2024, and those Panthers have the NFL’s worst record at 0-5. In fact, the Vikings only win of 2023 to date occurred thanks to Carolina. If the 2024 NFL Draft transpired tonight, the Bears would choose first — and second — because it owns the Panthers pick. Therefore, like the Bears, the Panthers must finish with a superior 2023 record to the Vikings.

Lottery Ticket QB
Dec 24, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah looks on before the game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

If neither the Bears nor Panthers lose more games than the Vikings in 2023, then Minnesota’s general manager, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, would have to trade up the draftboard to obtain Williams. Based on how the Bears and Panthers are playing through five weeks, Chicago will probably own the first overall pick.

That’s when the real problem emerges — would Bears general manager Ryan Poles really barter with the Vikings and hand one of his foremost foes the pick that lands Williams? Probably not.

2024 NFL Mock Draft
Jan 2, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) walks off the field after the game against the Tulane Green Wave in the 2023 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

Consider this: If roles were reversed, would you expect Adofo-Mensah to trade the draft pick that netted Williams to the Bears, Packers, or Lions? No — you’d flip out if he did so and become a keyboard warrior on social media decrying Adofo-Mensah’s existence.

Ergo, if the Vikings want to somehow draft Caleb Williams, they’ll need a worse record than the Bears and Panthers — or a more accommodating trade partner in early 2024. Vikings fans should basically pray that the Vikings, Giants, or Jets finish with the worst record in the NFL if they want Williams in purple and gold. Otherwise, it’ll be up to Ryan Poles’ mood.

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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