The Minnesota Vikings have mock-drafted Gregory Rousseau (DE), Kwity Paye (DE), Alijah Vera-Tucker (OT), and even DeVonta Smith (WR) in various analyses to date. So far, it is infrequent that the franchise selects a quarterback with their organic No. 14 spot in the 2021 NFL Draft.
But on Saturday morning, EliteSportsNY.com sent Alabama’s Mac Jones to the Vikings. This is significant because Minnesota would welcome and groom a quarterback of the future while ignoring the most glaring roster necessities for 2021.
The orchestrater of Jones-to-Minnesota, Tab Bamford, writes on the pick:
“Kirk Cousins is all over trade rumors already and, while he’s been consistent in his NFL career, has not been able to take the Vikings over the top. Jones would be the next generation leader in Minnesota they’ve wanted; the Vikings haven’t invested in a quarterback early in a draft since Teddy Bridgewater.”
Presumably per Bamford, the Vikings will have aptly addressed depth-chart needs at defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive guard, and free safety all in free agency on a minuscule budget. Or – the team doesn’t do that at all and just rolls with its current bunch, possessing rapid maturation aforethought as the goal. That would be the prerequisite for selecting Mac Jones with the 14th overall pick.
No Strong Consensus for Mac Jones in 1st Round
Although seizing Mac Jones in the 1st Round would be entertaining, he is not an ironclad pick early on in the draft. Some reputable draft brains sneak him to Carolina in the Top 10 while other mock drafts perceive Jones as a Day-Two pick.
For instance, ProFootballNetwork.com’s Ian Cummings comments on Jones in his scouting report:
“For now, I see Jones as a solid mid-round quarterback, who will probably end up being a Day 2 pick. With that being said, I could see an NFL team convincing themselves to pick him late in round 1, and if he keeps up his current trajectory, more teams will be comfortable banking on his high floor. But Jones’ athletic limitations and off-script inconsistencies collectively cap his upside, and he’ll never challenge the top four quarterbacks in the 2021 NFL Draft.”
Therefore, Jones can be reasonably considered a “reach” at No. 14 should the Vikings actionize the ESNY prophecy. And then Vikings lifers merely wait-and-see if the move was intelligent.
#14 is Reach Territory — Unless Someone Tumbles
Make no mistake – this is not to say that the choice of a quarterback is entirely foolhardy. The hesitation on this matter pertains to the specific quarterback sent to Minnesota. Jones is not a fixed attendee early in mock drafts. He has Daniel Jones vibes from the 2019 NFL Draft. Maybe a team is sold on him, maybe he goes late in the 2nd Round. It seems dangerous for the Vikings to nominate themselves as the gambler with these stakes.
On quarterback excitement in the 1st Round, this draft has the makings to get weird. Quarterback upheaval has already transpired this offseason with Matthew Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams, Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions, Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts, and Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson flirting with other teams. Too, there is no NFL Combine. Normal scouting processes will be improvised.
If a quarterback like Trey Lance – a Minnesota high school product – plummets down the board in two months, then quarterback at No. 14 may be irresistible.
But for now, Mac Jones and Trey Lance are not considered equals per career forecast.
The Learn-Behind-Cousins Approach
Whether it’s Jones, Lance, or a quarterback selected in later rounds, that man would have ample opportunity to learn behind incumbent quarterback Kirk Cousins. The 32-year-old has two seasons left on his contract, and the Vikings outwardly seem committed to seeing his deal through 2021 or 2022.
And that’s how the NFL used to do things. Pluck a quarterback prospect from the draft, ask him to learn for a year or two, and then hand the man the keys to the offense. Nowadays, teams have a proclivity to conduct trial-by-fire for young quarterbacks. Seize the moment on the man’s rookie deal – is the sentiment.
The Vikings would have the advantage of enacting the old policy – one that benefitted players like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.
Mac Jones as the Vikings quarterback of the future is not overly sexy as a Trey Lance or Justin Fields might offer, but it does move the conversation closer to life after Cousins.