The Really Surprising Thing about Most Vikings Mock Drafts …

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The Minnesota Vikings have a 35-year-old quarterback recovering from an Achilles tear who is not under contract in 2024.

Got it? So, what’s the most popular mock draft theory for Minnesota? Draft a defensive player.

The Really Surprising Thing about Most Vikings Mock Drafts …

Of course, mock drafts are basically just fodder for speculation and intrigue, but interestingly, as the offseason has heated up for the Vikings, draft heads have commonly settled on a defender — not a quarterback — for Minnesota with its 11th overall pick in the draft.

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If the Vikings extend Kirk Cousins tomorrow, perhaps the defensive player theories would check out, as folks would realize, “Oh, they’re running it back with Cousins; now build out that defense.” But Cousins’ status in Minnesota is firmly up in the air, with the quarterback personally claiming last week that he’d enjoy playing for Bill Belichick if the opportunity arose. In interviews, Cousins is usually gung-ho Vikings everything, so the Belichick response was particularly interesting.

Nevertheless, the mock draft community is fixated on defense for Minnesota. Mel Kiper dropped his first mock on Tuesday and united the Vikings with Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins. Daniel Jeremiah weighed in last week and sent defensive tackle Byron Murphy Jr. from the University of Texas to Minnesota.

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NFL Draft Database, a website that methodically logs all mock drafts and sorts by team, among other features, claims UCLA EDGE rusher Laiatu Latu is the most frequently mock-drafted player associated with Minnesota as of January 23rd.

Should the Vikings select a defensive trenchman like Wiggins, Murphy Jr., or Latu — great. Few will complain that Brian Flores’ defense can get even better in 2024. Yet, entering Year No. 3 of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s competitive rebuild plan, one would think 75%-90% of mock drafts would scream quarterback in bold font.

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Perhaps the tide will turn when the free-agent decision is finalized on Cousins. If he returns for a year or two, the mock draft community can conduct a victory lap. But if Cousins is allowed to hit free agency, the momentum will likely bend wildly off course and feverishly match the Vikings with a quarterback prospect like Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), or Bo Nix (Oregon).

Minnesota could even trade up the board on draft night, albeit at an expensive price, for North Carolina’s Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels of LSU. On the whole, remember this: It would be incredibly weird for Adofo-Mensah to round out his competitive rebuild without a young quarterback.

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The Vikings haven’t drafted a quarterback with 1st-Round capital in 10 years. Teddy Bridgewater in 2014.

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).

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