Vikings Have 2 Criteria for New QB

New Starters
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The Minnesota Vikings have an irregular decision afoot regarding 35-year-old quarterback Kirk Cousins. He’s scheduled to hit free agency in one week, is recovering from a torn Achilles, and will turn 36 by the start of the 2024 regular season.

Vikings Have 2 Criteria for New QB

Quarterbacks of Cousins’ caliber — distributors of 4,000+ passing yards and 30+ touchdowns per season like clockwork — don’t hit the open market often. But Minnesota has scripted it this way, allowing the veteran to nibble at his career’s third chapter elsewhere.

Have 2 Criteria
Tennessee Titans general manager Ran Carthon chats with Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah during practice in Eagan, Minn., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. © Andrew Nelles / The Tennessean / USA TODAY NETWORK.

So, before you know it, the Vikings may need a new quarterback, especially if Cousins waltzes to the Atlanta Falcons, for example, next week. And while scouring the market for such a player — presumably from the 2024 NFL Draft — the Vikings have two criteria for a new QB1: the ability to work off schedule and the organic talent to deliver accurate throws.

The latter dates back to the 2022 offseason, head coach Kevin O’Connell’s first in charge. He told Pro Football Talk two years ago, “I really do believe having attempted to play quarterback in this league myself and not ultimately achieving that goal because of the fact I wasn’t accurate enough as a quarterback. I think the number one for me now that I look at veteran quarterbacks, rookie quarterbacks, I evaluate them throughout any process is they need to be naturally accurate.”

Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023. The Vikings had a quarterback debate off the bye week in 2023, and O’Connell announced incumbent starter Joshua Dobbs would play in Week 14 at the Las Vegas Raiders.

Jot it down: the next guy must be accurate as a baseline, not a development player with a 50-something completion percentage.

Then, the man who will ultimately pull the trigger on the Vikings’ quarterback decision, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, uplifted the off-schedule aspect last week at the NFL Combine. “I think you have to be two players. You have to be able to operate on schedule. When Kevin calls a great play, gets the right look versus the defense, we gotta operate at a high level, make the right decision, make an accurate throw,” Adofo-Mensah told reporters.

Vikings Are Basically Done
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This seems to imply someone mobile or at least possessing the ability to act off-script. Aaron Rodgers, for instance, was never exactly coined a “mobile quarterback,” but he wasn’t a statue as a pocket passer. The man can move.

Adofo-Mensah added, “And then there’s that second play, when sometimes — and I don’t think it’s very often, I think Kevin’s one of the best there is — but when the play doesn’t exactly go as planned, maybe a teammate struggles, how do you overcome context? That’s something we’re going to look for.”

Which Rookie QBs
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The traits can apply to the top four quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft: Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), and J.J. McCarthy (Michigan). Even Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) and Bo Nix (Oregon) can be connected to the characteristics. Of course, the top three — Williams, Maye, and Daniels — are probably better for the criteria.

Accuracy and off-schedule tendencies. Book it: the Vikings’ prerequisites for life after Cousins.

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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