The Vikings Should Draft a Specific QB in The 2024 NFL Draft

NFL: NFL Draft
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Truth be told, the 2024 NFL Draft is likely to offer several excellent quarterbacks. Everyone will focus on the top six, but even some of the guys picked later on could blossom into excellent starters.

Bringing things around to Minnesota, though, leads to a pressing question: is there a specific quarterback the Vikings should draft on April 25th? Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are facing a lot of pressure to get the decision right after allowing Kirk Cousins to slip away in free agency. Do they leverage their pair of opening-round selections to jump up the board to bring in a rookie passer? If they do, who is the top target?

The Passer the Vikings Should Select in the Upcoming Draft

Someone looking for an ironclad answer about who is going to be drafted will need to look elsewhere. The future hasn’t arrived yet, so the best we can offer are educated guesses and prophetic predictions.

The focus, then, is less about narrowing things down to a single name and more about identifying a certain career trajectory. At times, teams have become enamored with an early-career starter, someone emerging from a pro-style offense who will be able to make a more seamless transition to the NFL (in theory).

The Vikings shouldn’t be one of these teams.

Draft Analyst
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Instead, the Vikings should be targeting the QB who can become an absolute stud by 2026. Maybe 2025 if there isn’t a pile of patience in Eagan.

While chatting with KFAN’s Paul Allen, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed his recent trade with the Houston Texans. The GM notes that there’s a “preferred scenario” about how the NFL Draft will unfold while nevertheless acknowledging that there’s uncertainty. Allen asks if the “buzz word around here [is] flexibility,” leading the GM to confidently say “absolutely.”

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports.

Quite possibly, Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell are eyeing a specific passer to be their new franchise quarterback. Drake Maye makes a ton of sense and so, too, does J.J. McCarthy. Caleb Williams isn’t happening, but there’s still a shot at landing Jayden Daniels.

In the end, though, the priority cannot be 2024.

Packers writer Bruce Irons offered a similar idea not too long ago, writing, “Vikings are really on a good plan if they are going to draft a QB and let him develop for a year behind Sam Darnold.” The danger, of course, is that “most teams that try this approach usually get too impatient and move to the rookie mid-season, stunting the rookie’s growth while wasting the overpaid vet.” A lot of wisdom in these thoughts, folks.

Since taking over, Adofo-Mensah has been consistent on his broader goals. The goal isn’t to open just a one or two-year window. Instead, the team’s main decision maker is looking to make the playoffs on an ongoing basis, thereby giving his team multiple chances at snagging the Lombardi.

The GM has been trying to make immediate and long-term needs coalesce in some sort of harmony within his competitive rebuild. Shouldn’t the QB decision work within that broader framework and approach?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Snagging a rookie who can start from Day 1 is excellent but it really shouldn’t be the goal. Even Patrick Mahomes took a red shirt year in the NFL. So, too, did many of the game’s best quarterbacks. Just look at who left Minnesota behind for Atlanta. Before becoming a starter, Kirk Cousins was a backup. And while he’s nowhere near Mahomes, Cousins has nevertheless become a strong starter (and someone whom Adofo-Mensah believes is capable of leading a team to a Super Bowl).

Maybe there’s a Russell Wilson situation. Seattle had a plan in place for someone else to start back in 2012 but Wilson proved that he was the best option. If that occurs in Minnesota, then so be it. But, crucially, that should be neither the goal nor the expectation. Rather, the plan should be to let the incoming rookie sit back for a bit to learn, be coached, and develop.

Minnesota’s decision making in free agency points toward the idea we’ve been exploring. Sam Darnold has been given the kind of financial commitment that suggests he’ll get the first shot at being the QB1. And then there’s the return of Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall, players who still have their supporters with the Vikings. Don’t forget that neither Darnold nor Mullens are under contract beyond the upcoming season, creating a pretty obvious pivot point for the team to hand things over to a passer brought in during the 2024 NFL Draft.

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Long term, none of the three in-house guys are likely to be the answer. What about being the main option(s) in 2024? Maybe they can keep the team competitive. An improved run game and defense could plausibly lead to a 10-7 record and some more experience in the postseason.

Along for the ride could be a young, upside passer who’s soaking up a ton of wisdom about life in the NFL.

A lot of the discussion about the (seemingly) incoming rookie passer focuses on how much he’ll have to succeed. The skill is abundant and the tackle tandem is exemplary. The head coach is a former NFL QB and the newly-hired QB coach inspires a lot of respect around the NFL. All of that is helpful and should be considered when thinking about how Minnesota will develop a rookie passer.

Arguably the best thing the Vikings could do, though, would be to allow the passer to have some runway before needing to take off. Draft the QB who can be a stud in a couple seasons, not a Day 1 starter with a questionable chance of succeeding.

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K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.