Welcome to The Jaren Hall Show
Barring a trade or free-agent acquisition in the next few hours — or a bizarre pivot to Sean Mannion — the Minnesota Vikings football will feature rookie quarterback Jaren Hall on Sunday.
Welcome to The Jaren Hall Show
The club travels to Atlanta for a date with the Falcons, hoping to turn a three-game win streak into four without the services of Kirk Cousins. The Vikings longtime QB1 reportedly tore his Achilles’ tendon in Week 8 during a win over the Green Bay Packers. If fears are confirmed, Cousins will miss the remainder of the season and be a free agent in March.
And even if the Vikings signed Carson Wentz, for example, or traded for Trey Lance before the NFL’s Tuesday deadline, that man likely wouldn’t be ready to play in Week 9, meaning The Jaren Hall Show is fully on track.
Minnesota scooped Hall out of the draft’s 5th Round in April, its contingency plan for life post-Cousins after the old contingency plan, Kellen Mond, didn’t pan out. Now, unlike Mond, Vikings fans will hope Hall is different.
The Vikings also employ Nick Mullens, who may be a better option at QB1 due to 17 games of starter’s experience, but he’s on injured reserve until Week 10, which is when Justin Jefferson is scheduled to return. Outside linebacker Marcus Davenport is also on IR, so injuries galore in the Twin Cities.
Assuming the Vikings don’t promote the aforementioned Mannion from the practice squad to a starter — most fans dread the possibility — Hall has one shot to impress the coaching staff at Atlanta and keep the job henceforth in 2023. He doesn’t need to play like a Pro Bowler and probably won’t anyway, but Hall cannot look utterly atrocious or unprepared. That’s likely the one way Minnesota would immediately tab Mullens for QB1 duty when healthy or explore Mannion’s promotion.
Minnesota could’ve stayed pat at pick No. 23 in the 2023 NFL Draft and drafted Kentucky’s Will Levis or Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker. But they did not, opting for WR abundance with USC’s Jordan Addison. Then, two days later, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah took a flyer on Hall in a draft spot notorious as a quarterback graveyard — the 5th Round (and later).
Now the 5th-Round flyer comes to living color on Sunday.
In 29 games at BYU, the 6’0″ 205-pounder completed 65.2% of passes for 52 passing touchdowns and just 11 interceptions. Anthony Richardson, a draft darling who landed with the Indianapolis Colts, fired up a 54.7% completion rate in college.
A couple of Vikings fans emailed the team in May for its weekly mailbag, wondering about the long-term plan for the 25-year-old. Vikings.com’s Craig Peters uplifted Hall’s accuracy, “I know that O’Connell places significant weight on accuracy when assessing quarterbacks, and Hall passed that test. Arm strength can be helpful, particularly if a team plays home games in the elements, but it might be overrated. It also can undermine some play designs if a quarterback struggles to put touch on the football.”
“We look forward to Hall and his classmates taking the field for the first time as Vikings this weekend and will provide coverage from the session. I don’t know what the future holds for him, but all I’m saying is let him start in neutral with folks’ opinions and see where he goes during the preseason,” Peters added.
In addition to his mature aura — Hall is 25, quite old for a rookie — and ability to lead, Hall’s accuracy was “the thing” that drew O’Connell and the Vikings his way. O’Connell mentions the trait as his conversation starter. So, when one pulls Hall’s college stats and sees his completion percentage as delightful, it should be no surprise that the Viking settled on him as the project quarterback.
In August, O’Connell said about Hall and his acclimation to the NFL, “My philosophy when you’re going to draft a quarterback, I think you pour into him on a daily basis. Development is a huge word, but I love the fact that we got him as many reps as we did this camp. I feel like Jaren has a really good understanding of our offense, where he can grow, where his comfort level can grow, and hopefully hit the ground running the next opportunity that he gets.”
Well, that time is now. And it arrives as the Vikings sit in the NFC’s seventh seed through eight weeks.
You can watch extended Hall highlights from the BYU days below.
The Falcons are favored by 4.5 to defeat the Vikings in Week 9.
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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).