The Vikings Need a QB in the Draft — 5 Predictions

Mar 4, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kentucky quarterback Will Levis (QB08) participates in drills at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

VikingsTerritory writers were asked to provide one prediction apiece for the Minnesota Vikings draft preference at quarterback in April.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah converted a meaty chunk of Kirk Cousins’ current contract to 2024+ dead cap this week, avoiding an extension and possibly signaling the end of the Cousins Era in Minnesota. For now, 2023 is the final year of his contract.

Therefore, the Vikings should probably draft a quarterback somewhere in April’s draft. These are realistic predictions for that possibility.

The Vikings Need a QB in the Draft — 5 Predictions

Some predictions will double up as the panel did not use groupthink tactics during the exercise. In those circumstances, consider the forecast all the more popular.

1. Hendon Hooker (Tennessee)

Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker (5) congratulates Tennessee wide receiver Bru McCoy (15) on his touchdown during the first half of a game between the Tennessee Vols and Florida Gators, in Neyland Stadium, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. © Caitie McMekin/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Prediction Maker = Janik Eckardt

The Vikings will choose Cousins’ successor on Day No.2 of the draft and pick Hendon Hooker out of Tennessee. In his last couple of college seasons, Hooker passed for 58 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. He adds the athleticism that Cousins lacks and has over 2,000 rushing yards and 25 career rushing touchdowns.

2. Tanner McKee (Stanford)

Vikings Need a QB
Mar 3, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee (QB09) speaks to the press at the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Adam New

With no extension for Kirk Cousins, Minnesota drives the part of the Vikings fanbase mad that desperately calls for the “new-fangled” athletic quarterback by drafting Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee on Day 2 of the NFL Draft.

CJ Stroud and Bryce Young appear out of reach, so rather than getting aggressive and going after Anthony Richardson or Will Levis, the Vikings go for a more immediate need in the first round — e.g., wide receiver.

McKee has the size and arm to be a very good pocket passer. Having spent two years in Brazil on a Latter Day Saints mission, his college career was delayed. He needs time to develop and will have one season to try and show he is ready. If the signs aren’t good, chalk him up as the latest Kellen Mond and look to the draft again in 2024.

3. Jaren Hall (BYU)

Nov 26, 2022; Stanford, California, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Jaren Hall (3) throws during warmups before a game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Kyle Joudry

Well, I’ll say that it’s still possible for Cousins to get extended. Is it more unlikely now? Certainly, but that doesn’t mean the possibility has gone. As several have pointed out, tacking on a couple more void years makes an extension easier to manage if both sides agree that’s the best route. Though my original guess looks unlikely, I’ll keep doubling down: Kirk’s purple career is closer to middle age than senior.

Nevertheless, the broader question is a good one. Drafting a QB seems likely, but I don’t think it’ll happen super high. Instead, they lean toward an upside prospect later in the draft. Put me down for Jaren Hall out of BYU. The little bit I gleaned from The Draft Network says we should remember his name once the draft arrives.

t4. Will Levis (Kentucky)

Sep 3, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) looks to pass during the second quarter against the Miami (Oh) Redhawks at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Cole Smith

The Vikings go after Will Levis in the draft. I’ve heard enough different people mention his name in the past month, and it’s no secret that Kevin O’Connell is a fan of Levis’ game.

If Levis begins to fall past the 10th spot in the draft, don’t be surprised if the Vikings trade up for their guy, allowing him to sit behind Kirk for the 2023 season.

t4. Will Levis (Kentucky)

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) waits for the snap during the first half against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Prediction Maker = Mitch Massman

Drafting a QB is always an option for the Vikings. However, there is not one prospect I feel confident will be a standout in their first year, so we are looking at a development year.

The one prospect I like to fall far enough down is Will Levis. Kevin O’Connell has ties to Kentucky, and Levis is not quite polished enough to go to a team that needs a starting QB in 2023. He is the guy to watch for the Vikings.

t5. Clayton Tune (Houston)

Rookie QB Worth the Vikings
Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) drops back to pass during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Josh Frey

Clayton Tune out of Houston is the player I’ve had an eye on for months.

He could have done better at the Senior Bowl, but he checks a lot of the boxes for a modern-day QB as a passer, plus obvious mobility. If he is available in the third or fourth round, it would make sense for the Vikings to take a shot.

t5. Clayton Tune (Houston)

Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) checks the play at the line during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Prediction Maker = Dustin Baker

Clayton Tune feels like the only non-1st-Round passer from the 2023 NFL Draft who a) Isn’t crazy old for a rookie QB b) Shows glimpses of NFL game-readiness. Hendon Hooker or Stetson Bennett might “be ready” in 2023 or 2024, but they’re unusually old, and it would feel undesirable for the Vikings to finally try the rookie-QB strategy with an oldhead.

The Houston product will take time to develop, but with Cousins under contract in 2023, Tune isn’t needed at all next year.

The Vikings marry both worlds — drafting a rookie quarterback + a teensy draft capital budget — with Tune somewhere in Rounds 4-7.

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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