Vikings Urged to Nail “Momentous Draft”

Need to Get into Top
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

The NFL draft is approaching, and it will be a massive opportunity for the Minnesota Vikings and their regime, which is currently in the third offseason in charge of the organization. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell began their tenure with the approach of a “competitive rebuild.” They exchanged most players but have shied away from making a change at the quarterback position.

Vikings Urged to Nail “Momentous Draft”

Vikings Urged to Nail "Momentous Draft"
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That shift will come now whether they select a passer in the draft because starter Kirk Cousins exited the franchise. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell apparently wanted to keep the four-time Pro Bowler around and perhaps develop a rookie behind him. He was not interested in exploring that avenue, forcing the Vikings to pivot to former third-overall pick Sam Darnold and a potential rookie.

Because the brass was forced to make a move, the question is, why not make the most significant move possible and facilitate the splashy trade on April 25 for a QB? Since trading for the 23rd pick from the Houston Texans, everyone around the league expects the purple team to trade up into the top five of the draft order.

CBS Sports writer Jared Dubin named five NFC teams who need to ace the draft, and usurpingly, the Vikings made the cut.

The Vikings have already signaled that this is going to be a momentous draft for them. They allowed Kirk Cousins to leave in free agency for a better deal from the Falcons, then traded up to nab themselves a second first-round pick. They have all but declared their intention to move up the board a second time, presumably to find Cousins’ successor. Whether that player is Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy, how he performs will likely define the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah/Kevin O’Connell era in Minnesota.

Once they complete that second trade-up, though, the Vikings will likely have precious little in the way of draft capital remaining for this draft, and they’ve already sacrificed some future capital to move up the first time. They may have to give up next year’s first to move up again. That’s a lot riding on what is likely to be just one player.

Jared Dubin
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While it indeed would be only one player, it is the one that could transform the franchise into an annual contender for the next decade. The NFL is a passing league; quarterbacks are vital for a team’s success. Employing an elite signal-caller doesn’t guarantee a Super Bowl win, and not every Super Bowl-winning franchise has an elite QB under center. Still, the chances increase drastically in favor of those with that player.

The Vikings must find Cousins’ replacement because Darnold is unlikely to be more than a bridge quarterback, the guy who is just the placeholder for the prospect the regime designates as their guy and adds to the team on April 25.

Vikings Vegas Odds
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It remains to be seen which young QB will join Darnold and backups Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall, but that one guy will join them seems likely. The two most probable options are Drake Maye (North Carolina) and J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), with Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels expected to go off the board within the two first choices.

McCarthy and Maye check many boxes of what O’Connell asks from his quarterbacks, and they have been the two most frequent names in the rumor mill. A trade into the top five will be necessary but costly, perhaps commanding three or even four first-rounders. The trade will be deemed successful if the selected player is good, regardless of the price.

purple rumor mill
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The draft will not end following that selection. Minnesota must find some hidden gems on draft Saturday because they currently don’t hold any second—or third-rounders. A wideout to replace K.J. Osborn, someone to compete for the left guard spot, and some help for the defensive line is on top of Adofo-Mensah’s wishlist besides the obvious quarterback prospect.

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