The Vikings Dodged a Bullet on Draft Night

Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O'Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

After about three months of mystery, the Minnesota Vikings put their foot down Thursday night and enhanced the offense, not the defense, in Round 1 of the 2023 NFL Draft.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah drafted Jordan Addison with the 23rd pick, a wide receiver from USC.

The Vikings Dodged a Bullet on Draft Night

Addison was the favorite by fans and sportsbooks to land with the team, at least as a prediction, so Minnesota wasn’t beset by anything too crazy. However, in drafting Addison, Adofo-Mensah also dodged a bullet in the 1st Round. He resisted the temptation to draft QB Hendon Hooker.

The Vikings Dodged
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports.

Back in February, Hooker was a darling 3rd-Round prospect, on tap to possibly join a team like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Rams — or even the Vikings. He’s recovering from a torn ACL suffered in November and will likely land with a team that doesn’t need him right away this September.

But March hit the calendar, and after one influential mock draft from, Hooker became a 1st-Round prospect, seemingly out of nowhere. Suddenly, nobody cared about his bad knee or advanced age. Hooker is 25 and will be 26 by the time the next batch of NFL playoffs arise.

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) drags South Alabama inside linebacker Ke’Shun Brown (35) with him toward the end zone during a football game against South Alabama at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. Kns Tennessee South Alabam Football Bp.

Surprisingly and unsurprisingly, the Vikings were the one team linked to Hooker via mock drafts for about two weeks. And once his stock solidified in the 1st Round, some draft heads aligned him with the Buccaneers and Titans, too. On the whole, though, Hooker in Round 1 was very much a Vikings thing until Thursday night.

If you’re a Vikings fan — likely if you’re reading this — you should fire up your finest happy dance that he didn’t become a Viking on Thursday evening. Drafting Hooker on Friday or Saturday is great, but a Round 1 stigma attached to his good name was always going to end badly.

A New Vikings QB Would Start the Clock
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports.

When Minnesota concludes the Kirk Cousins era — a reign with an undetermined end date — it should pivot to a rookie quarterback who is young and healthy. Signing on Hooker’s deadline would’ve disqualified both. He’s old by rookie standards and injured. Why would the Vikings knowingly construct a Cousins off-ramp with a 26-year-old starter (in 2024) who was a 3rd-Round prospect for most of the draft’s lead-up?

It never made sense for Minnesota, the team that employs a general manager obsessed with value. Still, the draft community spammed Hooker-to-Minnesota all over the place ad nauseam, and it was wrong.

Unthinkable for Vikings
Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports.

Hooker may turn into a fine NFL QB1, and most hope he does just that. But a 1st-Round stigma would’ve followed him forever, and the Vikings have encountered miserable luck drafting QBs in Round 1 for the last 40 years.

A Hooker pick at No. 23 could’ve been more of the same bizarre Vikings QB voodoo in Round 1. Alas, the fear is conquered, thanks to Jordan Addison.

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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