Is There a Dark Horse 1st-Round Quarterback?

Former Vikings GM
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The Minnesota Vikings will be in the mix for a quarterback with their first-round pick during the upcoming NFL Draft. Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye will all be long gone by the 11th overall pick. J.J. McCarthy is the latest name to emerge, but is there a dark horse to factor into the first round?

Is There a Dark Horse 1st-Round Quarterback?

For most of the draft cycle, a handful of the same names have popped up as quarterback prospects worthy of a first-round pick. You have the consensus top three, J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr. It stands to reason there could be one more player to consider, and that comes in the form of South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler.

There a Dark Horse
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The former Oklahoma Sooners quarterback transferred to the Gamecocks for his junior season and played in 13 games last year. He topped 3,000 passing yards but had a mediocre 18/12 TD/INT rate. This season, across just 12 games, Rattler put up a career-best 3,186 yards through the air with a much better 19/8 TD/INT mark.

He’s not a scrambling quarterback by any means, averaging just 1.1 yards per carry in 2023, but he is mobile enough to escape pressure. Arm talent is what a team would be banking on here, and while it seems somewhat unexpected that he would be coveted enough to use a first-round pick on, pairing him with elite-level talent could help elevate his overall abilities.

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CBS Sports analyst Chris Trapasso says he has a first-round grade on Rattler, and while he may be the highest on the prospect, he defended it well. “Rattler isn’t perfect, but I think we can all agree all the quarterbacks from this loaded class have clear-cut flaws. Beyond that, I’m not sure why Rattler isn’t getting significantly more hype at the outset of draft season. Two years ago, everyone had Rattler as a top 10 — and probably the No. 1 overall selection — before he transferred and revitalized his collegiate career in the SEC. Sure, South Carolina didn’t ascend with Rattler, but the traits are through the roof. Significant arm talent, plus accuracy to all levels, above-average athletic gifts.”

There isn’t a reason that the Vikings should find themselves in a place where Rattler at number 11 makes sense, but they could add draft capital and take him later in the round.

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Looking to fill multiple holes on the roster, it may make sense to trade back and get additional resources if Rattler is seen as a competent starter out of the gate.

I think it is still relatively unlikely that someone takes the South Carolina product with a first-round pick, but seeing assessments like these isn’t going to hurt his draft-day chances.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.