Pretty much every NFL team wants young talent at quarterback. The Vikings are one of the few teams who are unlikely to make it a priority in the offseason. Indeed, the Minnesota Vikings will focus their draft capital on solidifying the rest of the roster rather than worrying about QB. Whether fans like it or not, Kirk Cousins is the franchise QB, and that’s unlikely to change in the next few years.
As a result, the Vikings may find themselves in an interesting position on draft night. There are several teams that pick later in the draft that need a QB. Would one make a trade to get to #14? Rick Spielman has the ammo to move around the board, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be interested in accumulating more picks. There are several teams who would likely be interested in moving up if the right player is available. No matter what teams say publicly, the right player often comes down to need, and there are a lot of teams who need a QB.
Recent Draft History
QBs have always been important, but the rule changes make them increasingly so. The league is designed to allow the passing game to flourish, so teams very understandably want someone who can throw the ball. Unlike Mike Zimmer, most teams want to be efficient on offense. Passing the ball is the most efficient option. Moreover, having stability at QB is among the most important barometers for franchise health.
Another important factor to keep in mind is the salary cap. Teams like getting a stud QB in the first round because it can lead to cost-controlled production at the game’s most important position. A team can thus allocate money that they’d usually spend on a franchise QB to other areas of need. How much will the Covid Cap further prompt teams to pursue rookie QBs? Ask yourself: will my team be better served by handing $23 million to Teddy Bridgewater or by taking a chance on a younger, cheaper option? Reasonable minds may disagree, but you can be confident that a lot of NFL front offices would rather take the rookie.
In 2018, four QBs were taken before the 14th pick. In 2019, two QBs were taken before the 14th pick. Last year, three QBs were taken before the 14th pick. In other words, history shows that multiple quarterbacks are gone within the opening 13 picks. A team who is interested in snagging one of the top prospects will likely need to jump up.
We know Trevor Lawrence is going first overall. After that, there is some real intrigue. Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones will (unless something crazy happens) all get selected in the first round. It’s unlikely all five are gone by the 14th pick. It’s also unlikely that all of them will be available by the end of the first round.
Kansas City is obviously the gold standard here. In 2017, KC traded the 27th pick, their third round pick, and the next season’s first round pick to hop up to 10th overall to snag Patrick Mahomes. Make no mistake: teams take notice of this sort of thing, and pretty much every team in the NFL would gladly make this move if it meant getting someone who could be Mahomes.
Teams That Need a QB
Philip Rivers is no longer an NFL player. Drew Brees is done as well. Both the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are built to win now. It’s possible that Jacoby Brissett or Jameis Winston could be the solution, but neither inspires very much confidence. Would either team be interested in hopping up to 14?
Indy is going to pick 21st and New Orleans is at 28th. Both would need to surrender some serious draft capital to hop up to 14. It seems unlikely that Spielman would drop all the way to 28, but New Orleans has been aggressive (stupid?) in the past with their draft picks. After all, it was only a few years ago that New Orleans jumped from 27 to 14 so they could pick Marcus Davenport. The cost? The 27th pick, a fifth, and then the next season’s first round pick. It’s a laughable move from the Saints, and one that Minnesota should gladly accept if it is offered.
Moving back to 21 seems far likelier. In the 1990s, Jimmy Johnson developed a trade chart, one that assigns a numerical value to each pick. The overall goal is to have a system in place to have a better sense of fair compensation for a trade. Per the chart, Minnesota’s pick is worth 1100. The 21st pick is only worth 800. What would be needed to bridge this gap? Indy owns the 54th pick, and the chart gives it 360. The chart isn’t an exact science, but trading the 14th pick – especially if it means Indy gets a young, exciting QB – is mostly an even trade in terms of overall value. Indy would get 1100 in value and Minnesota would get 1160 in value. Hard to do much better.
Indy and New Orleans stand out, but there are other teams that might be interested in a trade. It isn’t like the QB situation in Washington, Chicago, and even Pittsburgh is particularly strong. These teams, in order, choose 19th, 20th, and 24th. Any of these teams could reasonably be interested in moving up to draft a quarterback. What about the Raiders? What are the chances Jon Gruden falls in love with a young QB and thus ensures Mike Mayock starts wheeling-and-dealing?
The more teams who want a QB, the better. The hope is that Spielman can hold the league hostage, forcing them to enter into a bidding war. Keep in mind that the 15th overall pick is held by the New England Patriots. Cam Newton didn’t really light the world on fire, so there is a pretty reasonable chance the Pats snag a young QB. Spielman knows this, and so does the rest of the NFL. Slick Rick will likely be reminding teams that if they don’t get to 14, New England may pick their man.
Kirk Cousins isn’t going anywhere. If anything, Cousins will receive an extension this offseason. The speculation about a trade or drafting a replacement is mere speculation. It may happen, and if it does I’ll need to admit I was wrong. At this point, though, there is no real evidence that Minnesota is interested in moving on from Captain Kirk.
The Minnesota Vikings are trying to win right now, so their focus in the draft will rest on improving in the present moment. It’s entirely possible that they’ll try to move up to target an impact player. Perhaps they’ll stay at 14 and be content with whoever is available. Christian Darrisaw is certainly an interesting prospect, and the idea of adding an elite pass rusher like Gregory Rousseau must be tempting.
Be that as it may, the 14th pick is becoming increasingly appealing to the rest of the NFL. It’s a critical moment in the draft, a turning point between the truly top-tier and the merely top-tier. The Minnesota Vikings will surely be interested in listening to any and all offers on draft night, and perhaps a team who is looking for their Mahomes in Shining Armor will make an offer Spielman can’t refuse.
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