A New Vikings QB Would Start the Clock

Vikings Draft Buzz -- Hendon Hooker
Mar 3, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (QB07) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been talked about regarding less expensive quarterbacks since the moment that Kirk Cousins signed on the dotted line. He’s now in the final year of his contract here, and with no extension in sight, the end could be near. For 2023, that puts a ton of pressure on the coaching staff.

A season ago, the Minnesota Vikings consistently found ways to win late and close games. First-year head coach Kevin O’Connell got more out of his team than Mike Zimmer did the year prior, but the downside is that it sets them up for regression in 2023. With a new defensive coordinator taking over for Ed Donatell, the hope would be that Brian Flores can make a big difference. Coaching adjustments get even more magnified should the Vikings go with a signal caller at the top of their draft.

A New Vikings QB Would Start the Clock

Two of the most prominent talking points leading up to the draft have been Tennessee prospect Hendon Hooker and San Francisco 49ers backup Trey Lance. The former would cost Minnesota their 23rd overall pick should he last that long, and the latter would carry that price tag and then some. Both could be considered worthy additions to a team looking for ways to lower their salary cap constraints, but either would also take away an opportunity to improve elsewhere.

A New Vikings QB Would Start the Clock
Nov 27, 2021; Knoxville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) runs with the ball during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Neyland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

There is no denying that the Vikings defense was horrendous a year ago. Donatell’s unit gave up yards through the air and on the ground. No aspect of the unit was truly exceptional, and they have now parted ways with veterans such as Patrick Peterson and Eric Kendricks. The linebacker depth is thin, interior defensive line needs help, and the cornerback room has been an issue for years. All of those places could be upgraded through the draft, but that gets tougher with few picks and using the first one on a quarterback.

Ultimately Minnesota would be bringing in the successor for Kirk Cousins. Whether it’s Hooker or Lance, one would think the player wouldn’t start consistently until the 2024 season. That means if the Vikings want to avoid a substantial slide, execution from the coaching staff becomes a premium. O’Connell would again need the offense to fire on all cylinders, and Flores would have to find ways for the defense to step up. A poor season would lead to greater draft capital a year from now, but that makes for an unfortunate slog through 2023.

No Love for Kevin
Jan 15, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on before a wild card game against the New York Giants at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Understandably the tradeoff is one worth exploring. Cousins has been good-not-great for years, and it’s become clear he’s probably not going to lead anything but an elite supporting cast to a Super Bowl. He doesn’t bring enough to the table to do it independently, and transitioning to a more spread-out roster makes some sense. Hooker and Lance would allow Minnesota to make bigger free-agent impacts in the years ahead, and their rookie deals are enticing at such an important position.

Vikings Could Enter the Trey Lance Sweepstakes
September 18, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) passes the football against Seattle Seahawks defensive end Darrell Taylor (52) during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

At the end of the day, a step backward may not be the worst reason to avoid allocating significant draft capital on a quarterback, but the quality of coaching up a bit lesser talent will then be on full display.

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.