Don’t Write Off the Vikings’ In-House Solution at Quarterback

Lately, the vast majority of the discussion has been on whether Kirk Cousins will stay or go. The Vikings’ in-house QB1 boasts far more talent than people give him credit for and yet the combination of contract, age, and injury are casting doubt on his future in The North Star State.

And then we think of what’s going to happen in the 2024 NFL Draft. The QB-rich event is bound to offer at least a few players who will pique Minnesota’s interest, so there’s ample speculation about whether Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell officially choose their man.

Jun 7, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell looks on during mandatory mini camp at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The dual focus on Cousins & NFL Draft has resulted in a strikingly different conversation from just a couple of months ago.

Gone is the speculation about Josh Dobbs finding a permanent home with the Vikings. The journeyman is almost certain to hit free agency and find a new team once there (possibly resulting in an extra draft pick for Minnesota). Nick Mullens doesn’t seem to get too much love among Vikings fans even if he does an admirable job of giving his playmakers a shot at making a play. Folks, there’s a ton of value in him being the QB2.

And then there’s Jaren Hall. The BYU alumnus did a mixture of good and bad things last season, but the lingering memory is of him being pulled in Week 17. Are people writing him off? If they are, should they?

The Vikings’ In-House Solution at Quarterback

The chances of Hall becoming Minnesota’s franchise QB are very small.

In March, Hall will turn 26, meaning he’s quite a bit older than most sophomores. QBs can be productive well into their 30s, but the advanced age does contrast with the upside within someone like J.J. McCarthy, who is still only 21.

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) reacts during the second quarter against the Washington Huskies in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, Hall was chosen in the 5th Round, 164th overall. A steadfast belief in Hall’s capacity to one day become the team’s starter at quarterback would have resulted in Minnesota making a move far sooner.

Nevertheless, the Vikings did take the plunge by sinking one of their six draft picks into him. The main men in Eagan have consistently articulated their praise for the young passer. By all accounts, they’re sincere in those perspectives.

Coming into the draft, Hall was compared to Gardner Minshew in the scouting profile on the NFL’s website. The blurb from Lance Zierlein offers these thoughts: “An undersized pocket quarterback with unimpressive arm strength, Hall’s field command gives him a shot to make it at the next level. He throws with excellent ball placement to targets on the move and delivers a feathery soft deep ball with accuracy. His lack of drive velocity creates smaller margins for error and his timing needs to be impeccable to beat NFL man coverage. Hall operates with ideal poise from the pocket. He does an adequate job of reading coverages and getting rid of the ball without taking sacks.”

NFL: Green Bay Packers at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 31, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) talks with head coach Kevin O’Connell before the opening kickoff against the Green Bay Packers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Combining a small frame, advanced age, and limited arm strength into a QB certainly clarifies why he lasted until the 5th, but what about the areas where he excels?

Start with the athleticism. Hall moves well, being able to extend plays while also being able chew up yards as a ball carrier. His willingness to take ownership of his mistakes while talking with the media points toward someone with good maturity and leadership. He has some zip on his ball and appears to be a really sharp guy. And, of course, one thinks of Zierlein’s praise for the QB’s accuracy, poise, and ability to avoid sacks.

The Green Bay outing definitely left a lot to be desired, and yet it’s hard not to think that Kevin O’Connell erred in putting the rookie into the game. After all, we’re talking about a Sunday Night Football tilt against the Vikings’ most hated foe. Now toss in the fact that the playoffs were on the line and that Minnesota was sifting through some injury wreckage and a run game that went completely MIA.

Syndication: Journal Sentinel
Green Bay Packers linebacker Quay Walker (7) sacks Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) during their football game Sunday, Dec. 31, 2023, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Yes, the stats were very ugly — 5/10, 67 yards, 1 INT, 3 sacks — but the rookie was put in a near impossible situation.

Minnesota would be foolish to move through the offseason with the perspective that Jaren Hall is going to ascend to the QB1 throne, taking over the top job after just a single season of experience. The draft slot and approach to his development suggests Minnesota hopes he’ll become their QB2 of the future.

Even still, the possibility can’t be entirely discounted that Hall does something special by emerging as an excellent option over the next couple years. In the coming weeks and months, keep an eye on what takes place with Mr. Cousins and what occurs in the 2024 NFL Draft, just don’t totally write off the Vikings’ in-house QB since he had a single rough game in horrendous circumstances.

Jaren Hall has potential, so let’s see how things develop.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference 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.