Flexibility is the Theme for Kevin O’Connell, Vikings in the 2024 NFL Draft

NFL: Combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many are expecting the Minnesota Vikings to take one direction in the 2024 NFL Draft: trade up for a quarterback.

However, that certainly isn’t the only option for the purple team this April. The Vikings currently hold both the 11th and 23rd overall picks in the first round, giving them plenty of different paths to take in this year’s draft. Head coach Kevin O’Connell detailed that flexibility at the NFL owners meetings this week.

Kevin O’Connell Suggests Vikings Have Flexibility in 2024 Draft

Kevin O'Connell
Nov 5, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell on the sideline against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin O’Connell joined The Insiders on NFL Network to talk about where his team stands heading into the draft and at the quarterback position. “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 head coach stated.

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.”

There is a lot to unpack here. The Vikings head coach may be very correct that this spring’s draft could be a heavy-offense affair at the top. There are four quarterbacks who could be selected with top five picks while a litany of talent at offensive tackle, receiver, along with TE Brock Bowers could leave the Vikings with their choice of the top defensive talent if they stick with the 11th overall pick.

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Dallas Turner (15) celebrates after a sack in the second quarter against the Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Furthermore, O’Connell had a lot of positive things to say about Sam Darnold, who the Vikings recently signed in free agency.

“I think Sam’s at that point in his career. I think his best football is ahead of him because of how he’s handled the last couple years, whether it’s going 4-2 down the stretch in Carolina in ’22, or when you turn on the tape of his work in San Francisco, you can tell Kyle (Shanahan), Brian Griese — these guys did a great job in the next phase of his career. Fundamentals, techniques; things that you look for to see growth.”

Darnold certainly is entering a positive situation with the Minnesota Vikings this season. If he were to be the starter this year, he would be throwing to one of the most talented receiving duos in the league in Jordan Addison and Justin Jefferson. Unlike his time in New York or Carolina, he would have a stout offensive line in front of him as well, limiting pressure.

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (11) look on during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

If the Vikings are intrigued by a QB prospect like Michael Penix, they could also be able to scoop him up with the 23rd overall pick rather than trading away multiple first-rounders in order to move up into the top 10.

Otherwise, they could further solidify their weapons around Darnold by selecting a player like WR Brian Thomas, which would mark the second consecutive season in which the Vikings take a receiver with the 23rd overall pick.

Regardless, flexibility is the theme for the Vikings in the 2024 NFL Draft, and they certainly have plenty of different options when April 25th rolls around.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.