The Single Most Important Part of the Vikings Draft

The Massive Vikings Debate Has Arrived
Lions fans cheer during the Lions' 34-23 win over the Vikings. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings will decide on oodles of roster items in 2.5 days, drafting at least five new players to coincide with general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s “competitive rebuild” mantra.

Adofo-Mensah owns the 23rd overall pick and could, quite frankly, do about 10 different things with it. This draft is among the most mysterious in Vikings history.

The Single Most Important Part of the Vikings Draft

But nothing matters as much as the quarterback outcome. Plain and simple. Write it down — the choice of a quarterback, or lack thereof, will define the organization’s trajectory for years to come.

Here’s why.

If the Vikings Draft a QB

Draft steam has suggested the Vikings will put their foot down and capture a QB1 for life after Kirk Cousins. Hendon Hooker is all the craze despite his age-25 resume with a healing-from-ACL-tear knee.

MJD Is the Latest
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports.

Hooker joining the Vikings would be a bit odd because he was a 3rd-Round prospect to start March. But such is life when the draft-hype machine gets involved. Otherwise, Minnesota could splash into the Top 10 via trade for C.J. Stroud (Ohio State), Anthony Richardson (Florida), or Will Levis (Kentucky). All of those men are stunningly on the table if Adofo-Mensah is in the mood to trade a king’s ransom.

Should the Vikings choose Stroud, Richardson, Levis, or Hooker, an emphatic exit ramp for Cousins will be opened for traffic. A franchise cannot use 1st- or early-2nd-Round draft capital on a quarterback without sumptuous plans to acclimate him to an offense as QB1. Writing will be on the wall if Minnesota selects a QB Thursday or early Friday night — Cousins’ days are numbered.

Most Important Part of
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports.

On the other hand, if Adofo-Mensah shimmies into bed with a passer from Rounds 3-7, well, that’s just a Kellen Mond redux. The expectations for the hypothetical man will be loosey goosey and “it’s anybody’s ball game” if he turns into something special.

Who are those guys? Dorian Thompson-Robinson (UCLA), Tanner McKee (Stanford), Jaren Hall (BYU), Jake Haener (Fresno State), and Clayton Tune (Houston), for example. Each would enter the organization as a lottery ticket while Vikings fans hope for a Dak Prescott or Russell Wilson-like outcome from the draft’s mid-rounds.

So, there are tiers. Round 1 or early Round 2 effectively ends the Cousins era after the 2023 season finishes. A man from Rounds 3-7 becomes a maybe, with a presumable option to roll with Cousins in 2024 if that player doesn’t impress behind the seasons as a rookie.

If They Draft Zero QBs

Some would call this the doomsday scenario — no quarterbacks drafted at all by Minnesota this week.

Then what? Well, it would indicate the Cousins isn’t as divorced from 2024 as once thought. Truth be told, the Vikings could wiggle out of the draft this weekend and extend Cousins’ contract on Sunday. That is allowed. This thing isn’t open and shut.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

However, no contingency plan from the draft would signal the procrastinative route or, you know, figuring it out later, quite like this. The Vikings could totally be enamored with the 2024 draft class crop at quarterback, and no one knows it right now. Choosing zero quarterbacks during this draft would enhance the theory.

The club would also, to a degree, squander the opportunity of employing Cousins — almost as gravy — as the next guy watches and learns. In NFL-speak, letting the presumptive future QB1 marinate for a year rarely falls flat on its face. Ask the Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers about it.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

On the whole, if no QBs are on the docket, folks would be back where they start while reading this — what’s next at quarterback?

A Cousins extension, after all? Drafting the next QB1 in 2024? Trading for a dark horse after the 2023 season? Making a run at Lamar Jackson?

Everything about the future of Vikings football — Cousins’ destiny, Kevin O’Connell’s eventual job security, Adofo-Mensah’s ability to scout quarterback unlike his predecessor — comes to a grand climax this week with the choice at quarterback. Everything.

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