Here’s Why Jaren Hall Isn’t a Bust

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Green Bay Packers linebacker Preston Smith (91) forces a fumble by Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) during their football game Sunday, December 31, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings entered the 2023 offseason with Kirk Cousins under contract for only one more season, so they were an obvious team in the market for a passer in the draft to select his successor, especially with multiple intriguing prospects entering the NFL.

Here’s Why Jaren Hall Isn’t a Bust

But the top three guys were drafted within the first four picks and were out of reach for the Vikings, while QB4 Will Levis apparently wasn’t the desired QB of the future as they passed on him.

With the aging Cousins and his backup Mullens under contract, the decision-makers still tried to take a shot at a passer when they chose BYU’s Jaren Hall in the fifth round. Hall was one of the older prospects in the draft at age 25, but with two solid years as a starter for BYU, he drew some interest in the draft process.

 Why Jaren Hall Isn't a Bust
Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt (95) and cornerback Keisean Nixon (25) sack Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) during their football game Sunday, December 31, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Minnesota is a wonderful spot for a developing quarterback, as the team has a starting QB and a backup in place while also employing a bunch of dynamic playmakers and an offense-minded head coach who can mentor the rookie.

Indeed, there was no pressure on Hall in the preseason or the first half of the season. But that changed in the blink of an eye when Cousins dropped back to pass, stepped up to scramble, and his Achilles tendon snapped. With Mullens on IR, Hall was suddenly in the game, facing the Packers’ starting defense after only matching up with backups in practice and three preseason games.

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Just a week later, Hall was asked to lead Minnesota’s offense in a road game in Atlanta without the top stars Justin Jefferson and Christian Darrisaw. And he did quite well after an initial three-and-out when he steered his team down the field all the way to the goal line. An attempt to rush for the touchdown ended with him on the ground, slowly getting up. Joshua Dobbs took his place and went on his miraculous run. A few weeks later, Mullens stepped in for the struggling journeyman, but continued turnovers led to Hall getting another start in Week 17.

This time, Hall looked clearly overwhelmed. The lights were too bright for him in primetime on New Year’s Eve. The divisional clash in the season’s most important game ended in a disastrous blowout loss for the purple team, and the hesitating passer never gave them a chance.

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However, it is way too early to be done with Hall. First, he is a rookie, and first-year players struggle, especially QBs. The game speed is different, the playbooks are more complicated, and the defenders are on another level than he saw at BYU.

In addition to that, Hall was a fifth-rounder, and there is a very good chance the Vikings didn’t envision him to be the next Tom Brady or Brock Purdy, a late-round gem, but much rather a career backup, someone they would have on the team for years for him to step in whenever a starter goes down. As everyone has seen in 2023, that is an important job in the NFL to stay competitive when the worst happens.

He was not supposed to see the field in his debut season and instead develop behind a pair of veterans. A fifth-round signal-caller should never have to face unrealistic expectations anyway.

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Like all young players, he should get the benefit of the doubt for another year before he is called a bust, but not developing into a starting quarterback in his rookie year certainly doesn’t qualify for that designation.

Hall and Mullens are under contract for 2024, and barring an influx of more than one quarterback, Hall has excellent chances of making the team in the upcoming season, returning to his bench role and hoping to develop into a longtime NFL backup.

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