The Next Few Days Will Be Defining for Vikings

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports.

Draft week. We are finally here.

Soon, all the speculation will be over, and we will find out what the Minnesota Vikings do in this year’s draft — one that is being called a franchise-changing draft. The next few days will be defining in Minnesota for the current regime.

The Next Few Days Will Be Defining for Vikings

There has been speculation that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah will be on the hot seat if he doesn’t come out of this draft with the Vikings’ potential QB of the future. The Vikings have worked themselves into a position where failure to do so will assuredly be met with great disappointment and criticism. Allowing Kirk Cousins’ contract to run down and then trading with Houston for a second first-round pick has everyone waiting for the Vikings to draft a QB.

Everyone from Vikings ownership to the GM and head coach has spoken publicly in the build-up to this draft, and the intent is clear. The Vikings want to draft a quarterback. Sam Darnold has been signed as a bridge quarterback, but Minnesota is on the hunt for the guy Kevin O’Connell can nurture into the future of the franchise alongside Justin Jefferson. Getting that decision right at this juncture sets the franchise up for the next decade.

Pressure

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Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah at the 2023 NFL Combine in Indianapolis, IN. The Vikings finished 13-4 in the first year under Adofo-Mensah’s general management.

There is always pressure on the GM to have a good draft, but the pressure cooker has been turned up a notch or two this time around. The entire league has been focused on the Vikings and what will happen in Minnesota. Everything that has happened over the last two years has built towards this point. If the Vikings can trade up and come away with the quarterback they want most, it will have been a job well done.

The fanbase will be full of excitement, and the Vikings will be moving forward into the 2024 season with a sense of optimism and positivity. If the Vikings can’t trade up and end up having to either settle for a lesser quarterback or even not draft one at all, suddenly, there will be a lot of question marks surrounding the Vikings. Many will perceive this as a failure, with the futures of Adofo-Mensah and Jefferson likely to come under scrutiny. 

Adofo-Mensah needs to nail this draft, which mostly hinges on getting a quarterback. The Vikings GM still comes under fire for the results of his first draft, although his second endeavor in this area yielded better results — led by Jordan Addison and boosted by undrafted gem Ivan Pace. With the hangover from the first draft lingering, getting it right this year can swing the consensus firmly in the GM’s favor, with the disappointment of the first draft being put down as a rookie learning curve.

The Quarterbacks

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports | Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) celebrates after winning 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game against the Washington Huskies at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports.

Two names are constantly brought up in Vikings draft discussions: Drake Maye and JJ McCarthy. Maye is the popular choice, with the expectation that the Vikings will have to strike a deal with New England at pick 3 to attain him, while McCarthy is seen as the more attainable with a trade to pick 4 or 5 required for him. Of course, that is all guesswork. If Minnesota can’t trade up and assumes neither of those slides to pick 11, the consolation prize is Michael Penix Jr. 

Do the Vikings take Penix at 11 in fear of missing out on him altogether? In my opinion, that’s too early, but the possibility of no quarterback is something that has to be considered. There are plenty of other positions on the roster that the Vikings need to address. Earlier in the draft process, I would have said not taking a quarterback and filling out the roster was an acceptable outcome. The way it’s all played out, it now really does feel like quarterback or bust for the Vikings.

The Draft

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports.

It promises to be an anxious wait on Thursday. I don’t expect any possible trade to happen before draft day, and Vikings fans will watch nervously as the proceedings unfold. Whatever the Vikings do the next few days will be defining in Minnesota. The expectation is for draft day fireworks; anything less than that will be an anticlimax.

Of course, even if Minnesota gets its man, that is only half the job. Then, it is down to Kevin O’Connell and his staff to bring the chosen quarterback through to become the eventual starter and then progress from there. The rookie quarterback and the financial flexibility you have, while you find out what you have in your guy, have become the popular path to take in the NFL. It’s a new path for the Vikings, and it is one most eager for them to take.

Getting the QB and the success or failure of that pick has become all-encompassing in Minnesota’s orbit. We now only have to wait until Thursday to get our answers. 


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