Vikings GM Highlights the 3 Qualities His Future QB Must Have

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Kirk Cousins’ future is a mystery at this point, as he is a pending free agent after spending his last six seasons with the Minnesota Vikings. While all parties have repeatedly emphasized how much they wish to continue the relationship, all options are on the table, whether that is a contract extension, the acquisition of a free agent, or the selection of a passer in the draft.

Vikings GM Highlights the 3 Qualities His Future QB Must Have

Vikings GM Highlights the 3 Qualities His Future QB Must Have
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That choice of the right quarterback is a make-or-break move for general managers. Rarely do they get the chance to pick numerous ones early in the draft before getting fired, but identifying the right one automatically buys a GM a multi-year contract extension.

The Vikings hold the 11th overall pick, barring a trade — probably too late to get one of the elite signal-calling prospects. Head coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must scout the passers and find their guy at some point in the near future, regardless of the price.

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But what are the items on their checklist about their future quarterback? Adofo-Mensah answered that question during Tuesday’s press conference at the scouting combine:

The qualities that make all great quarterbacks. You have to be two players. You have to operate on schedule. When Kevin (O’Connell) calls a great play, gets the right look versus the defense, we have to operate at a high level, make the right decision, make an accurate throw. And then there’s that second play when sometimes, and I don’t think it’s very often, Kevin is one of the best there is, but when the play doesn’t work exactly as planned, maybe a teammate struggles, and how do you overcome context?

That’s something we’re going to look for and then, obviously, from a leadership standpoint, that position sets the tone. You’re talking about somebody like Kirk (Cousins), who sets an example for how he works, his process. He’s got a phrase: It is not a hobby. And he lives every day that way. You need somebody at that position who embodies that for your team.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Playing on schedule, off schedule, and having leadership qualities — the three talents draft prospects must possess.

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It’s hard to evaluate college quarterbacks based on their leadership skills, especially because they all get praised for it by their coaches and teammates, but NFL teams schedule meetings and interviews with those guys, attempting to get that information. Adofo-Mensah is right, though; a quarterback is more than just a guy who throws some passes. He must have total command over the players, and some people are natural leaders while others are not.

The on-field skill set can be evaluated from a distance when watching the tape. Having the ability to execute a play just like it is drawn up is valuable, but not every QB can do it, although it sounds relatively simple.

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Cousins, for example, is a master at that, but his off-schedule abilities have drawn criticism. Others, meanwhile, check the second box. They can make plays off-schedule better than him but fail to make the easy plays. Kyler Murray comes to mind, who is undoubtedly better than Cousins at creating on his own, but he doesn’t have the same talent just to do what he’s asked to do. Both are good in different ways, but the great ones can do both. Patrick Mahomes is elite in either category.

A look at the quarterbacks in the draft shows that Caleb Williams might not be the perfect fit, in addition to his unreachable draft stock. His tendency to play hero ball instead of doing the simple thing doesn’t fit the description. It should be noted that that could change with the right coaching.

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J.J. McCarthy does fit the characterization to a tee. In Michigan’s run-heavy offense, he wasn’t asked to play hero ball at the same frequency as Williams, but when he had to, he did it. The rising prospect might not have the speed of Jayden Daniels or the arm talent of Williams, yet he surely checks the boxes of what Adofo-Mensah is looking for, making him even more attractive for the Vikings, in addition to the predicted and feasible draft slot.

The Vikings will reveal their plan for the QB position in the next two months, step by step. Deciding on Cousins’ future will be their first phase, followed by the potential signing of a free agent and the possibility of choosing a rookie in the draft on April 25.

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