Popular Rookie QB Named “Best Fit” for Vikings

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In the next six weeks (and probably before the drop-dead date), the Minnesota Vikings must decide to extend incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins or let him walk to open free agency.

Popular Rookie QB Named “Best Fit” for Vikings

The topic is the source of debate among Vikings fans, with most landing on wanting Cousins back if the price is reasonable.

And while Cousins’ return on a “team-friendly” deal remains to be seen, the franchise could draft a quarterback in Round 1 of April’s draft. In fact, that may happen with or without Cousins. The Vikings haven’t chosen a quarterback in the 1st- or 2nd-Round of a draft since 2014. Minnesota has also never used a Top 10 draft pick on a quarterback, although it has the 11th pick this cycle.

Popular Rookie QB
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So, if the purple team takes the plunge this draft for a new quarterback, it could be Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., according to The 33rd Team, an NFL think-tank site outfitted with former players, coaches, and executives.

The 33rd Teams Marcus Mosher outlined the “best fits” for each quarterback prospect in this year’s draft last week, and for Penix Jr., that was Minnesota. Mosher explained, “Penix played on a great team with great receivers, so it’s a bit of a mystery how he would do with subpar weapons. But putting him on the Vikings with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson would be almost unfair. He is incredible at throwing downfield and throws with anticipation and accuracy.”

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To date, Penix Jr. is the “compromise” quarterback fit for Minnesota in mock drafts. That is, he’ll likely be available at the No. 11 pick, so Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah need not “trade everything” to move up the draftboard for Drake Maye (North Carolina) or Jayden Daniels (LSU), for example. In theory, the Vikings could also barter up to No. 1 for Caleb Williams (USC), but most believe the Chicago Bears, the team that owns the pick, won’t trade with an intradivision rival.

Mosher continued, “It remains unclear what the Minnesota Vikings will do at quarterback this offseason, but the best bet is Kirk Cousins will return on a short-term deal. However, that shouldn’t preclude the Vikings from taking a quarterback sometime on Day 2 of the NFL Draft. Michael Penix Jr. had a fantastic season for the Washington Huskies, leading them to a National Championship appearance against Michigan. While they came up a tad short in that game, Penix had a magical season.”

Lions Have the Almighty
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Penix Jr. enchanted the football world during the College Football Championship semifinal, helping the Huskies defeat the Texas Longhorns five weeks ago. Washington prevailed 37-31, as Penix Jr. delivered 461 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. His draft stock ascended, and many believe he’d fit quite well inside the Vikings’ 2024 offense.

Then, his Huskies lost the next week in the championship while Penix Jr. didn’t look too dazzling, allowing his draft stock to remain outside the Top 10. In all likelihood, as of January 29th, the rookie should be attainable for the Vikings with the 11th overall pick — no trades up the board required.

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Penix Jr. is universally touted as a 1st-Round quarterback for April, with the only real blunder on his resume as injury concern. He’s played two healthy seasons in a row, but before that, the injury list was extensive. In 2018, he tore his ACL. A year later, his season was cut short by a sternoclavicular joint ailment. Then in 2020, he tore the other ACL. And in 2021, an AC joint injury ended his campaign.

Optimists will maintain that the last two seasons are a suitable indicator that Penix Jr. is “good to go” in the big leagues. All the injuries be damned. Some NFL team will convince itself that he is the way, and then we shall see if the injuries emerge akin to 2018 through 2021.

The 2024 NFL Draft is 87 days away.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.