The Vikings had to find a new backup QB. Sean Mannion is 30 years old and has never shown the ability to lead an NFL offense at a productive level. His limited mobility, accuracy, and arm strength are a problem. Just having a sharp mind won’t get you far in the NFL.
The young passer, Kellen Mond, meanwhile, had some significant struggles in the second Vikings preseason game. He threw two interceptions against the 49ers. Mond’s biggest problem, however, is the time he needs to scan the field. The time he needs until the throw is way too high. Timing issues lead to pass rushers coming too close to him and cornerbacks closing gaps to open receivers. He might develop into a good passer and certainly has the tools to do that. However, he’s not an option at QB2 at the moment.
None of the two could lead a consistent and functional offense in the two preseason games. The Vikings had to do something and add another backup quarterback to the mix. The job of the backup is not to take over the team like nothing happened if the starter goes down. His job is to keep the season alive if the starter has to miss a few games. Going 1-1 in a two-game stretch is the goal. Mannion and Mond can’t provide that.
The Vikings, therefore, traded for Raiders QB Nick Mullens to take over that role. But who is that?
Who Is Nick Mullens?
The new Vikings QB is 27 years old and from Arkansas. In High School, Mullens was the Player of the Year in Alabama in 2012. The QB verbally committed to UAB but changed his mind and committed last minute to Southern Miss. At Southern Miss, he surpassed the single-season records of an all-time great, Brett Favre, with 4,476 yards and 38 touchdowns.
During his freshman year, he became Southern Miss’ first true freshman QB to pass for over 300 yards in a game. Against UAB, the college he initially committed to, he helped his team to end a 24-game losing streak. He had 370 yards and five touchdowns. Mullens only combined for 25 passing touchdowns in 19 games in his first two seasons. His breakout year came in his junior season, as he threw for 38 touchdowns and just 12 picks. As a senior, he added over 3,000 yards and 24 scores to his resume and helped his program to back-to-back winning seasons.
His 11,994 yards passing and 87 touchdown passes easily surpassed Favre’s 7,695 yards and 52 touchdowns.
Mullens still went undrafted and signed with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers had a deep QB room with multiple veteran passers. The undrafted rookie made the practice squad, where he stayed his entire rookie campaign. One year later, he was waived again as the final roster cuts took place and made the practice squad. Jimmy Garoppolo tore his ACL a few weeks later, and Mullens was promoted to the active roster. In Week 9, Mullens was named the starter after C.J. Beathard suffered a wrist injury. Mullens’ debut was one for the ages.
He threw for 262 yards, three scores, and no interceptions in a 34-3 victory. Mullens finished the 2018 season with 2,277 passing yards, 13 touchdowns, and ten interceptions.
He stepped in a few more times for the injured Garoppolo. In 2020, he started eight more games and threw for 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also started a game in Cleveland in 2021. The game didn’t feature starter Baker Mayfield or backup Case Keenum, as they tested positive for COVID-19.
Mullens’ career produced another incredible statistic. His 4,405 passing yards in his first 16 starts mark the second-most by any quarterback in NFL history in that span, trailing only Patrick Mahomes, who had 5,100 yards.
The Vikings get a new backup QB with a true gunslinger mentality. If something happened to Kirk Cousins, Mullens would come in without fear. He would just go out and act like it’s his offense. That is a desirable mindset of the backup quarterback. He might not lead a team to the playoffs but could certainly pull off a few victories without the starting quarterback. In addition to that, the starter experience is incredibly valuable. The big lights won’t overwhelm him.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt