Vikings Don’t Need QB with Top 10 Pick
Without a miraculous and nearly unprecedented turnaround, the Minnesota Vikings are barreling and bumbling to a high draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Vikings reside in second-to-last place in the NFC through six weeks of the 2020 season, “ahead” of the New York Giants by a half-game (only a half-game because the Giants have an extra loss in an additional game played).
While it’s not impossible for Minnesota to embark on a long winning streak, the team has shown in performances versus Indianapolis and Atlanta that its prognosis for the remainder of the season is bleak. Earlier this week, general manager Rick Spielman jettisoned recently-acquired defensive end, Yannick Ngakoue, to Baltimore for clawback draft picks. Ngakoue had been a dusty jewel of the Vikings defense so far this season. His production was not superhuman, but it was noteworthy. It isundetermined if the Vikings have an unexpected winning streak on the horizon, but the franchise did not improve in the immediate short-term via the Ngakoue trade with the Ravens. The EDGE rushers are now Ifeadi Odenigbo on one side and some combination of Jalyn Holmes, Jordan Brailford, and D.J. Wonnum on the other end. All of these men are deserving of a look for the remainder of the season, but none verifiably inspire fear within opposing offensive coordinators.
The prospect of a record in the neighborhood of 5-11 or 6-10 is significantly more palpable with an unflattering pass rush. That sort of lowly record plops Minnesota high in the pecking order of next spring’s draft. The depth chart needs are plentiful – even for a roster that was forecasted by oddsmakers to win nine or more games before the start of the 2020 season. The offensive line, interior defensive line, and now defensive end opposite Danielle Hunter could all stand to improve. These areas will be examined ad nauseam by Vikings brass leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft.
The alluring and marketable temptation for a Top 10 draft pick is to nail down a franchise quarterback. The Kansas City Chiefs did so in 2017 with a competent Alex Smith on their roster, so everybody should be able to find “their Mahomes,” right? If only it was that simple.
Minnesota may select a post-Cousins quarterback early in the draft, but selecting a signal-caller that high in any draft is a crapshoot.
Nine Pro Bowlers in Last Decade
Since 2010, 23 NFL teams have selected quarterbacks with Top 10 picks in the draft. From Sam Bradford to Justin Herbert, the biographies and styles of these men are diverse. Notable busts include Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Josh Rosen. Prominent choices include the aforementioned Mahomes, Andrew Luck, and Cam Newton. Then, there is a middle ground for quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Jared Goff, and Ryan Tannehill.
Banking long-term prosperity on a quarterback with a Top 10 selection in the draft is a roulette. Sometimes it works. Often it does not. Of the 23 men taken by an assortment of teams in the last decade, just nine quarterbacks have visited a Pro Bowl. That’s 39 percent. Four out of ten times – it works. The other six circumstances force a team to try it all over again.
What’s more, only two of the 23 quarterbacks selected in the Top 10 since 2010 have become All-Pro, an honor bestowed on the league’s best players for a single season. Unsurprisingly, one is Patrick Mahomes, the other is Cam Newton for his 2015 MVP season.
NFL teams get the “right guy” at quarterback in the NFL draft via Top 10 choice less than half of the time.
The Patrick Mahomes Exception
When devising the utopian scenario of revamping a franchise, we use the slogan, “We need to find our Mahomes.” That’s swell. If the process was that elementary, NFL scouts would live and dine at Texas Tech University.
Men like Mahomes – Brady, Manning, Marino, Rodgers, etc. – are generational finds. Of course, you cannot succeed if you don’t try to snatch a quarterback in the Top 10 of the draft. But the odds of that missile connecting with the target are less probable than a standard coin flip. There is a very real possibility that the Top 10 quarterback that is selected leaves a stench in the fanbase’s nostrils.
Patrick Mahomes is the only quarterback in the last decade to win a Super Bowl after being chosen in the first 10 picks of a draft. Since coming into his own in 2017, he is establishing himself as the exception to every rule. Mahomes has the Super Bowl on his resume. He is granted the green light to throw across his body in odd situations because he is just that damn good. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid even allows him to throwno-look passes.
Men like Mahomes don’t exist in smoke-filled rooms waiting for the Minnesota Vikings to make an offer. Or any team, for that matter. The Chiefs struck red gold.
Just “a” QB – Not Top 10
With Kirk Cousins’ struggles to begin the 2020 campaign, it’s evident that the Vikings will draft a quarterback somewhere in the upcoming draft. Minnesota is married to Cousins financially, and the prenuptial agreement disallows for the team to cut ties with him prematurely without hefty alimony.
A sensible approach entails the selection of “a” quarterback that can do two things. Foremost, that prospect in a reservist role should create a sense of urgency for Cousins. See Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love in Wisconsin. Perhaps with his feet to the flames, the best Kirk Cousins will trot onto the field in 2021.
Next, a rookie signal-caller is the almighty contingency plan. That unnamed man would be ready and waiting for his opportunity should this lackluster edition of Cousins becomes more prevalent in future stretches. At the moment, we do not know if Cousins is in an offensive line-fueled rut or if, at age 32, he is beginning an extremely early decline in production. Past precedent suggests this is merely a nasty set of games. Yet, if it is not, the Vikings would have an inexpensive alternative at QB2 should Cousins’ woes persist.
It’s just not mandatory that the man comes from the first 10 picks of the 2021 NFL Draft. Anywhere in the first three rounds might do the trick.