Three Burning Vikings Questions ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell looks on during the third quarter against the Tennessee Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been one of the NFL’s busiest teams this offseason. Just to name a few moves, starting quarterback Kirk Cousins left for Atlanta, and star edge rusher Danielle Hunter signed with the Houston Texans while former Green Bay Packer Aaron Jones joined the backfield in Minnesota. 

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has made some nice additions to this roster. The defense, in particular, has seen some serious contributors brought in. Andrew Van Ginkel and Jonathan Greenard should help offset the loss of Hunter, while Blake Cashman was brought in to replace Jordan Hicks. 

However, just weeks away from the 2024 NFL Draft, there are several burning Vikings questions. Today, let’s identify what those questions are. 

Who Will Be the Starting QB in 2024?

Vikings Questions
Oct 23, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) passes against the San Francisco 49ers in the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

As mentioned above, Kirk Cousins will no longer be suiting up for the Vikings. The team quickly moved to sign free agent Sam Darnold to help fill that gap. Darnold, a former first-round selection, was brought in on a one-year, $10 million deal

The thing about Darnold’s deal is that it doesn’t lock the Vikings into anything. This deal should be looked at as a one-year, prove-it deal that does no long-term damage if it doesn’t work out. The Vikings likely are not content with Darnold, though, considering the team recently added an additional 2024 first-round pick. The Vikings now own pick No. 11 and No, 23, giving the team ample ammunition to move up if needed. 

Will the Vikings indeed package these picks to move up? The most likely scenario is a trade up with the Arizona Cardinals who are picking at No. 4. Even if the Vikings move up, would the rookie QB get handed the reins immediately? 

Who Will Start at Guard? 

Oct 2, 2022; London, United Kingdom; Minnesota Vikings offensive tackle Blake Brandel (64) during the NFL International Series game at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports

Currently, the Vikings have Blake Brandel penciled in to start at left guard. 2023 starter Dalton Risner is still unsigned at the moment. The veteran guard performed admirably last season and earned a 57.1 PFF grade. Risner fared better in pass protection than run blocking and didn’t allow a single sack last season. 

Is Risner open to a reunion? Or are the Vikings not interested in Risner’s services? If the guard doesn’t come back, I would expect the team to address the position in the draft. Even if Risner comes back, the team could still use depth and young talent. The new passer in Minnesota will need a strong interior line to rely on. 

Can the Vikings Realistically Compete in 2024?

Dec 24, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell celebrates after Minnesota Vikings running back Ty Chandlers (32) touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings have made the playoffs just once in the last four seasons. Will that change in 2023? For that to happen, several things will need to go right. 

Say the team trades up for a rookie passer. If said rookie passer impresses and starts immediately, we could be looking at a 2023 Houston Texans situation. The Texans entered 2023 with no expectations and ended up making the playoffs thanks to the stellar play of rookie QB C.J. Stroud. 

Another scenario is that Sam Darnold wins the job and impresses. Darnold was a first-round pick after all, so perhaps working with Kevin O’Connell can help him live up to his potential. 

Looking at this roster, the Vikings have a quality offensive line, two star receivers, an elite tight end, and a young, promising defense. Even average QB play could put the Vikings in contention for a playoff spot. The way that Adofo-Mensah decides to attack the draft will tell us a lot about how the 2024 season will go.