Which Rookie QBs Can Minnesota Draft?

the QB to Avoid
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Iowa during the first half of the Big Ten championship game at Luca Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

When the Minnesota Vikings ultimately embark upon their first-round pick in April’s 2024 NFL Draft, they’ll unquestionably be considering a new quarterback. Regardless of how the Kirk Cousins saga plays out, this draft is too deep, and the future need is too great to gloss over the position altogether. What options do they have, though?

Which Rookie QBs Can Minnesota Draft?

It seems pretty straightforward that quarterbacks will go with both of the first two picks. Currently, those two slots are owned by the Chicago Bears and the Washington Commanders. If Chicago decides that young quarterback Justin Fields is not the answer, then both franchises can take their next passer. Even if either trades out of their spot, it stands to reason that an acquiring team would be moving up for the opportunity to grab a quarterback.

In the first two spots at the position, an overwhelming consensus suggests that Caleb Williams will be taken and followed by Drake Maye. Both are seen as near-finished collegiate prospects with a straightforward path to development at the highest level. USC’s Williams has been presumed to go first overall since a season ago, and despite somewhat of a lackluster season for the Tar Heels, Maye hasn’t fallen off either.

Which Rookie QBs
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Assuming the Vikings aren’t willing to part with the necessary assets to reach a top-two pick, what they have left to choose from at the position remains enticing, and each brings something different to the table.

Depending on which draft board you look at, the waters get a bit muddier after Maye. Jayden Daniels, the reigning Heisman winner, should be expected to go third off the board, but a surprise certainly could happen. Daniels represents a dual-threat option; he was nothing short of electric at LSU. Minnesota has continued to draft former Tigers, and while Kevin O’Connell didn’t exactly lean into Josh Dobbs’ skill set this season, Daniels significantly raises that bar.

Vikings Are Basically Done
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Having recently played in the National Championship game and elevated Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan Wolverines to a title, J.J. McCarthy fits a similar mold to Daniels. He, too, can make moves with his feet, and though he isn’t nearly as polished of an overall product, there have been points throughout the season where he was talked about as the next man up after the top two.

Playing against McCarthy in the title game was Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. The Huskies quarterback had some elite wide receiver talent this season, and his ball placement allowed all of them to eat. Penix didn’t have a great game on the grandest stage, which could hurt his stock, but plenty of people see a natural progression from one purple jersey to the next.

Arguably the most controversial option near the top of the class is Oregon’s Bo Nix. He was a substantially different player when starting school with Auburn, and although the results have changed drastically with the Ducks, plenty have not been able to separate that. Although he can create with his legs, Nix is not a runner. The arm is enormous, and the passing knowledge is impressive. Sure, he’s played at the amateur level forever, but that could also benefit him with a quicker learning curve at the next level.

draft darling for
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Unlike some years where there are just one or two true first-round options, this draft should provide at least five or six names for organizations to consider. It will be on the Vikings to decide if any are right for them and to make sure they nail the pick, but they may not have to move up much if the goal is simply to secure one of them.

Ideally, a succession plan will materialize soon post Cousins, and that could happen through the draft.

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.