Should the Minnesota Vikings Draft a Top Quarterback if One Falls to 14?
Imagine an NFL Draft scenario in which one of the first-round graded quarterbacks falls and is sitting there when the Minnesota Vikings go on the clock.
As NFL Draft day continues to approach, most of us have found ourselves playing the popular "what if" game when it comes to the draft. So many different scenarios can play out. A team can easily trade up, back, draft someone unexpected, or everything could go exactly as the experts say they will.
It's safe to say that Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are locked in for the first two picks. That seems to be all that is guaranteed at this point. San Francisco made a major trade to move up to the third spot in the draft and is situated to take a quarterback as well. Which one? Everyone believes that it will be Mac Jones, but would Justin Fields or Trey Lance really be a shock?
Over the last few days, I've been experimenting with the mock draft simulator through Pro Football Focus. Full warning, it is very addicting and a lot of fun. Over the multiple mock drafts I have done, about half of them left Jones, Fields, or Lance when my pick for the Vikings popped up at 14th overall. Most of the time, Jones was the one that was available.
Each time one of the top-rated quarterbacks has fallen to 14th overall, I really had to stop and think to figure out if that's the direction I would take the team.
Kirk Cousins will enter the 2021 season as the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings. There is no changing that considering his contract status and, to be completely fair, his play at the end of last year would make this hypothetical question an automatic "no." Cousins is under contract through 2022 and is due $21 million for 2021 and $35 million for 2022. His cap hits account for $31 million in 2021 and $45 million in 2022 according to Spotrac.
With the money owed to Cousins over the next two years, the question becomes somewhat simple in regards to the quarterback position in this hypothetical scenario. Do you continue down the road with Cousins and keep him as your franchise quarterback while working/reworking the money in the future, or plan to move on from Cousins after this deal is done and have his successor waiting in the wings?
But then there is another wrench in the situation to consider. If you remember back to last season, the Minnesota Vikings traded a second-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. The relationship between Ngakoue and the Vikings lasted a few weeks into the 2020 season before the Vikings sent him off to Baltimore in exchange for a third-round pick. Minnesota does not have a second-round selection.
With needs at offensive line, another defensive edge rusher, and a few other positions, not having that second-round pick hurts. If you select a quarterback in the first round, who is going to be a backup in 2021, the opportunity to fill out some key positions of the roster becomes a bit harder.
So considering all of the circumstances, if you were sitting at 14th overall and Jones/Fields/Lance were on the board would you take them? In the scenario posted below, Jones fell down to 14th overall. It might seem a bit tempting...
Each time I was faced with that scenario, I passed on the opportunity. The Ngakoue trade and losing that second-round pick proved to be the difference for me in that spot. Instead, I found myself taking a needed offensive lineman (Rashawn Slater at 14 is great value in the mock draft above) or was able to make trades with teams like Washington (19) or Pittsburgh (24) that would exchange first-round picks, get a second-round pick back, and then even obtain at least one future first-rounder.
Most of the time, the next set of quarterbacks on the board were available by the obtained second-round selection. If the Vikings are going to sit and groom a quarterback, someone out of the Kyle Trask (Florida), Davis Mills (Stanford), or Kellen Mond (Texas A&M) group might be a decent option while filling the needs of the roster for 2021.
I have a feeling if Rick Spielman was faced with a similar situation, he would find a way to move back and aim to build for this upcoming season instead of building for the future at quarterback.
But, hey, that's the fun of the NFL Draft and all of the unexpected things that can happen.