Vikings Draft Target Earns High Praise from Ex-GM

1 Forgotten Man Deserves Credit for NFC North Title
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The Minnesota Vikings want to select a new franchise quarterback in April’s draft; it’s the league’s worst-kept secret. Following Kirk Cousins’ departure, the team requires a new passer, someone who can be the long-term solution under the watch of Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, who have acquired a second first-rounder, positioning the organization in the perfect position to trade into the top five.

Vikings Draft Target Earns High Praise from Ex-GM

There are many candidates for the role of O’Connell’s student and partner. Caleb Williams is widely expected to be the first guy off the board, heading to the Chicago Bears. Behind him, who knows what will happen? Depending on the draft pick the Vikings can acquire and the players drafted before that spot, Jayden Daniels (LSU), Drake Maye (North Carolina), and J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) are viewed as the other top four QBs by most in various orders and would be targeted by the Vikes.

Vikings Draft Target Earns High Praise from Ex-GM
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Ex-Vikings general manager Rick Spielman is high on this draft class. His QB3 (behind Maye and Williams), Daniels, reminds him of Lamar Jackson, the two-time MVP from the Baltimore Ravens.

Daniels’ arm talent is obvious. He has a long, linear frame and is an excellent athlete for the position. He demonstrates good poise and patience in the pocket. Daniels throws right-handed and possesses a smooth, fluid release. He has the arm strength and accuracy to make all the throws he will need in the NFL. Comparing his tape from 2022 with this season, Daniels has made tremendous strides in working through his progressions. He makes smart decisions and takes care of the football.

Daniels’ speed and athletic ability to make plays with his legs might be the best in this draft class. He consistently outruns defenders in the SEC — he rushed for more than 220 yards against Florida. When the pressure rises, Daniels seems to raise his level of play at critical junctures in games. He was excellent running the two-minute offense just before halftime against Alabama. When the bright lights come on, Daniels thrives. Several traits in his game are reminiscent of Lamar Jackson when he came out of Louisville.

Rick Spielman. the33rdTeam
Clue for Jayden
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A year ago, nobody expected Daniels to be more than a late-round draft pick at best, but his rise in the 2023 season was fun to watch. He produced an outstanding 50 touchdowns (40 passing and 10 rushing) in addition to 3,812 passing and 1,134 rushing yards. Daniels also thrived at ball security, only throwing four interceptions all season long.

Those numbers were a big reason for the Heisman Trophy win. Daniels will immediately be one of the elite rushing threats among NFL quarterbacks, but make no mistake about it: he can sling the ball. His timing and rhythm, paired with excellent arm strength and perhaps the best mechanics in the class, are why he is an unusually effective passer from the pocket for a player with his athleticism. The ability to squeeze the ball into tight coverage is exceptional.

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To land the quarterback, Adofo-Mensah likely has to trade with the Commanders for their second overall pick, a costly transaction but one with enormous upside.

Ian Rapoport reported that the purple team met with the prospect following his pro day. “Immediately following his Pro Day, LSU QB and potential Top 3 pick Jayden Daniels is scheduled to meet with the Patriots, Commanders, Giants, Vikings, Broncos and Raiders, per his agent Ron Butler. Daniels has not previously met with any teams.”

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The 23-year-old will be in the mix for the Vikings when the draft starts on April 25. With picks 11 and 23, they have the ammo to make it happen, although it would also cost future draft assets.

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