Vikings Pass on Fan Favorite QB in Latest Mock Draft

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The NFL draft is always unpredictable. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will guide the Vikings through the offseason for the third time, and the needs are obvious. The defense desperately needs some infusion of talent in every area, but the fans desire a shiny new quarterback, a talented first-rounder they can rally behind.

Vikings Pass on Fan-Favorite QB in Latest Mock Draft

Vikings Pass on Fan Favorite QB in Latest Mock Draft
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With Kirk Cousins in the final year of his contract, turning 36 in August, and coming off a torn Achilles tendon, it surely is time to prepare for the future, to find his successor regardless of his potential return for a year or two. At some point, the Vikings need a plan for the time after their longtime QB1, as drafting a passer out of desperation leads to Christian Ponders.

However, the mock draft pundits still aren’t sold that the Vikings actually need a signal-caller as they continue to send the team some defensive help–for good reason. Brian Flores had his defense cooking for a while, but their defensive breakdown in the last few weeks brought back a talking point that hasn’t been relevant for a while: How much can Flores actually do with the bad personnel?

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For that reason, Connor Livesay from The 33rd Team shipped the Vikings Illinois defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton. He would be Minnesota’s first defensive lineman (interior or edge rusher) drafted in the first round since Sharrif Floyd in 2013–a truly stunning fact.

One of the better pairings this year is getting Jer’Zhan Newton with Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Newton is undersized, but his ability to get after quarterbacks and live in opponents’ backfields would be a match made in heaven for Flores and the Vikings. Minnesota moves its personnel around a ton to find advantageous matchups.

An interior pass rusher? The franchise might not know that those are legal as they haven’t had a decent one in a long time, but they can make a huge difference nowadays. Aaron Donald and Chris Jones completely change the way quarterbacks play as they can collapse the pocket from the inside, making it impossible for the passer to step up. It is also the shortest way to get to the QB.

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In the last decade, the Vikings have emphasized defensive tackles who can stop the run with Linval Joseph, Michael Pierce, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Harrison Phillips. Newton racked up 18 sacks in four seasons at Illinois, with 13 coming in the last two seasons. He has also produced 187 tackles, including 27.5 tackles for loss. His 43 QB pressures rank him 6th among interior linemen in the FBS.

Newton is only 21 years old and looks like a future star, so there won’t be any complaints when the Vikings select him with the 13th overall pick. Well, there might be, as the Vikes passed on Washington quarterback Michael Penix, who joined the Buccaneers six picks later.

Penix has become the fan favorite in Minnesota since he put on a show in the college football playoffs semifinals, throwing for 430 yards and two touchdowns. He fired lasers all over the field and looked incredibly sharp against Texas.

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The 23-year-old is accurate, has a phenomenal arm, and can move. The one downside is that he has already suffered two torn ACLs and a couple of shoulder injuries. However, he has not missed a game in the last two seasons since transferring to Washington, but 66 touchdowns and 9,289 passing yards in those two campaigns show his talent.

There is a good chance that the Vikings will draft what they think could be their future franchise QB or add a talented defender with their first pick. The draft will take place on April 25 in Detroit.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt