The Minnesota Vikings hold the 14th overall haul pick in April’s draft, no 2nd-Round selection, two 3-Rounders, and four 4th-Round picks. The franchise is also slated to choose four 5th-through-7th-Round players during the event. The fourth 4th-Rounder is not yet confirmed but will likely come to fruition when the NFL awards Minnesota a compensatory pick for Trae Waynes’ 2020 exodus from the team.
That’s a lot of draft capital.
General Manager Rick Spielman consistently finds gems in the draft’s 2nd Round, so do not be miffed if he trades the 14th overall pick back or packages some of the 3rd and 4th-Rounders to move into the 2nd Round. Spielman has notably extracted Eric Kendricks, Mackensie Alexander, Dalvin Cook, Brian O’Neill, Irv Smith Jr., and Ezra Cleveland from the 2nd Round. Therefore, based on his track record, Spielman has a vested interest in wiggling his way back into this round.
When Minnesota began the 2020 season with a 1-5 record, most wandering eyes turned to a potential quarterback selection in the 2021 draft. Nevermind that the team already has a quarterback it has committed to for stacks of money through 2022. Kirk Cousins and the Vikings later rectified their performance and finished the year with a 6-4 record after the embarrassing 1-5 start.
It is severely unlikely that Vikings choose a quarterback at the No. 14 spot as the team has offensive and defensive line maladies to confront. Yet, Minnesota could still choose a prospect somewhere to prepare for life after Cousins.
What is Not Happening?
Cousins is scheduled to earn about $75 million over the next two seasons. If he is not traded in the next month (he won’t be), Cousins will be the quarterback for at least the next two seasons. Love him or shun him – this is the reality.
That means star-studded youngsters like Trevor Lawrence, Zack Wilson, or Justin Fields are probably off-limits. Landing these players would require a massive trade involving oodles of draft capital, an unlikely scenario because the Vikings have roster holes to fill unrelated to the quarterback position.
If Cousins tossed a Teddy Bridgewater-like 15 touchdowns per season, this trade-up phenomenon would be in play. Cousins doesn’t do that, though. He dimed 35 paydirts in 2020 – more than is usually needed for a Mike Zimmer-led team.
For those that believe the Vikings are on the docket for a blockbuster draft-day trade that acquires a quarterback, a mental readjustment of expectations is in order.
A Realistic Compromise
Spielman would be silly to wholeheartedly avoid a contingency plan at quarterback. It is possible that Minnesota finishes south of 9-7 or so and a head-coaching change is actionized. On the whole, however, the team has a lot of talent and playmakers that will probably disable the doomsday scenario for Zimmer.
But a general manager must prepare for the worst. And, yes, that encapsulates a conceivably poor 2021 Vikings showing. Ergo, Spielman can blend both worlds. He can spend draft capital on a promising quarterback prospect not necessarily in the 1st Round.
That’s when men like Mac Jones (Alabama) or Kyle Trask (Florida) enter the chat. In the last few months, Jones and Trask have sent out drastic “what round will he go” signals. Sometimes, mock drafts plop them in the 1st Round. Other renditions place them as low as the 4th Round – and the Vikings in 2021 have a boatload of picks in that round. If they enjoy either man’s scouting report, the Vikings could slither around the draft to nab their man.
Moral of the story: Jones and Trask are markedly more realistic than Lawrence and Fields. Jones and Trask will add more sizzle to QB2 than Sean Mannion. And that’s an understatement.
Or Nothing at All
Too, Minnesota may stay idle in the draft at quarterback. They have a signal-caller that throws for 4,000 passing yards and 30+ touchdowns like the sun rises. That should be sufficient for any NFL team. Allocate resources to the offensive line, defense, special teams – and boom – a playoff contender is born. The problem in 2020 was that those three facets of the team were dreadful. Quarterback was not the problem.
University of Iowa alumnus, Nate Stanley, is affiliated with the roster. He certainly does not bring Jones or Trask excitement to the table, but the franchise apparently likes him. Should Stanley have the trust of Vikings brass, no 2021 quarterback prospects are necessary.
Taper excitement on the Vikings quarterback plans for the draft. The franchise is committed to Cousins. Zimmer was prophetic a few years ago when he declared that Cousins’ performance was inherently tied to his [Zimmer’s] future. Quarterbacks not named Kirk Cousins can reasonably be discussed for the organization when Zimmer departs. The two are likely a package deal.