Jaren Hall was Drafted to Compete with Both the QB1 and QB2
Don’t miss the all-important “both” in the title, folks.
So much went into the pre-draft hype (Hendon Hooker in the 1st!) that it’s easy to forget that Jaren Hall’s most immediate competition is, in fact, Nick Mullens. Indeed, the BYU thrower is gunning for the QB2 job, not the QB1 spot. Kirk Cousins will start. For some, that’s disappointing, but it’s as close to an ironclad fact as we can get in an NFL that constantly beckons uncertainty.
Jaren Hall will be looking to distinguish himself as the main backup. Currently, he has long odds of doing so.
The 28-year-old Mullens has been around the NFL in his five seasons. He has spent time under the tutelage of Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco before working with Kevin Stefanski in Cleveland. He’s now working with Kevin O’Connell (who played QB in the NFL, though sparingly).
One wonders if Mullens’ background will set him up to one day be a strong NFL coach.
In the immediate, he’s trying to be a strong QB2. It’s a job that requires him to be an extra set of eyes for Cousins. The pair will be working the tablet on the sidelines during the game as they try to decode what a defense is doing to the Vikings’ offense. Mullens’ 17 career starts – the equivalent of an entire season’s worth of starts – help him to be successful in the task.
His 27-to-23 career TD/INT ratio isn’t the stuff of legend, but it’s not too bad for a backup. Not unlike Case Keenum, Nick Mullens will step in and inspire some confidence. He’ll compete like crazy and take his shots. Can’t expect too much more from a backup.
During the offseason, he agreed to a two-year deal that sees him carry a $1.725 million cap charge in 2023. The number will swell to $2.275 million in 2024, but a cut could clear off $1.9 million.
Meanwhile, Hall – who recently agreed to terms – has a modest $819,818 hit in 2023 and a $984,818 cap charge in 2024. Being a 5th-rounder means the team gets to work with some paltry numbers (at least by NFL standards). Paying a QB1 top money means the GM is likely looking to scrimp and save whenever possible, so the cost-controlled rookie deal has its benefits for a team.
The task for Hall will be to show that he’s capable of giving Minnesota a shot at keeping the ship afloat if he needed to take over. As good as Cousins? Not likely. Instead, the coaching staff will be looking for a competitor who is undaunted by the opportunity. Go in there and don’t be at all intimidated by the moment. Let the ball fly as you trust your receivers, young fella. That’s the mandate. If he can do that, Hall will be just fine.
Kirk Cousins has proven to be insanely durable in his career. In a perfect world, that good fortune will continue. If it doesn’t, though, the Vikings will need to be prepared. Keeping both Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall in 2023 is the outcome that makes the most sense (by a mile).
Going into 2024, all bets are off. Depending on how the competition unravels, Cousins may return, and he may be looking at the sophomore Hall as his main backup.