Vikings HC (Kind Of) Names MIN’s Starting QB

Drops One Hint
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As expected, Sam Darnold is the lead contender to be Minnesota’s QB1.

Kevin O’Connell is responsible for deciding who becomes the team’s starter after Kirk Cousins took his talents down to Georgia. If there had to be a game today, Sam Darnold would get the nod as the top option, as O’Connell discussed in his recent presser.

Vikings HC Kevin O’Connell Explains Who Sits in the QB1 Spot

The issue is that there’s no official depth chart, meaning nothing is, well, official.

“We haven’t had to put out a depth chart or anything like that,” O’Connell notes, “but yeah I would say Sam would be the guy I would look to based upon the spring he’s had. And really where’s he at in his career, in his quarterback journey. And what he’s been able to do coming in and really hit the ground running and really kind of take advantage of a competitive situation.”

Theory on Harrison
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Right afterwards, O’Connell tossed praise over to J.J. McCarthy, Nick Mullens, and Jaren Hall. Some of that is standard O’Connell optimism, but it’s a good reminder that the QB competition is a crowded one.

Truth be told, the expectation was always to see Mr. Darnold in pole position at this stage. The man landed a $10 million commitment during the offseason, a surefire indication that Minnesota viewed him as more than just a QB2/3.

The money alone suggested that Minnesota was catapulting Darnold ahead of the in-house options: Mullens and Hall.

Vegas Odds
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The uncertainty rests in the presence of J.J. McCarthy, the upside passer scooped up at No. 10 in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Michigan man is going to one day become the Vikings’ starting QB, but that day doesn’t appear particularly close.

Recently, The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis jumped into the situation, describing it as one where Darnold is clearly in the lead:

The Vikings are sticking with their plan at quarterback. J.J. McCarthy, whom the team drafted at No. 10, did not take a first-team rep. This isn’t a reflection of his play at all. Instead, it’s a sign that the team’s strategy — to take the long-term and slow-and-steady approach to quarterback development — is more than just news conference fodder. Expect Sam Darnold to start for Minnesota in Week 1 and well into the season, depending on his health and performance. He placed passes accurately all spring and comfortably mingled with teammates and coaches. This is unquestionably Darnold’s best-ever NFL situation, and it’ll be fascinating to see what that means in the form of results on the field.

Getting to a spot where Mr. McCarthy is ahead of Mr. Darnold in time for September would be a major surprise. The rookie would need to totally shred the remainder of the offseason, dominating at training camp and in the preseason. Otherwise, he’s very likely to be a backup.

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Sam Darnold, 27, is 6’3″, 225. He has completed 59.7% of his passes for his career while tossing 63 touchdowns alongside 56 interceptions.

The Vikings will be looking for the completion percentage to soar into the 60s as the TD/INT ratio starts moving heavily in favor of touchdowns rather than turnovers.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

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.