Vikings Head Coach Pumps the Brakes on Big Draft Theory

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports.

Perhaps it won’t be a quarterback after all.

Vikings Head Coach Pumps the Brakes on Big Draft Theory

Most Minnesota Vikings fans have absolutely succumbed to the concept of the purple team choosing a quarterback in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, which is exactly one month away. In fact, per social media steam, the majority of Vikings faithful have decided the team has a binary choice between North Carolina’s Drake Maye and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy after general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pulled off a nifty trade 10 days ago, sending two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap.

vikings head coach
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are prime candidates to trade up the draftboard again, probably into the Top 5 with the Washington Commanders, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, or Los Angeles Chargers. Then, per the theories — insert Maye or McCarthy.

But not so fast.

Changing Thoughts
January 10th, 2024. Minnesota Head Coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center concluding the 2023 NFL regular season. Minnesota finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the postseason.

Kevin O’Connell spoke to reporters Monday, and in no way, shape, or form did he claim a quarterback was mandatory with the team’s first selection. “I think it’s going to be a big-time offensive draft at the top, so when those marquee defensive players start to go, could be in a range around that 11th pick for us, but I think it was about flexibility,” Minnesota’s skipper opined about his team’s trade with Houston.

Minnesota added a litany of defensive players from free agency, including Jonathan Greenard (OLB), Andrew Van Ginkel (OLB), Blake Cashman (ILB), and Shaquill Griffin. After using free agency on defense, many believe the 1st Round of the draft will be an offense-themed affair for Minnesota.

Vikings Draft
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

O’Connell added, “I think you view it as extra flexibility in a draft where between our pick at 11 and the way we’re looking at this draft at pick 23, we think there’s going to be some really good players available, if we were just to stay at those positions and take players, maybe a quarterback, maybe a couple defensive players.”

The Vikings have never used a Top 10 draft pick on a quarterback, so if the team swerves and trades for one, it would be unprecedented in the Twin Cities.

Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

O’Connell left himself an out, though. When asked about trading up, he replied, “Yes, we want to, if we identify a player that we would like to go up and try to add to our football team — first and foremost, there’s got to be a willing partner to do that and I think there’s going to be processes that play out, conversations here and onto the future. We’ll figure out if we’re able to do that, but yeah, I think it was ultimately of having the flexibility of having two ones in what we think is a really strong draft, and I don’t think we’re the only ones that view this draft like that.”

One must also consider that O’Connell’s defense comments could be a smokescreen. It may be better for other NFL teams to believe Minnesota isn’t required to draft a quarterback.

Teddy Bridgewater was Minnesota’s last quarterback chosen in Round 1 — a decade ago.

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 MIN obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by