The best thing about following a team that has a 7-1 record is you don’t have to start solely focusing on next year’s draft. However, the mock drafts are already coming thick and fast, and it’s always good to have an eye on the future.
The favored position among most drafters at this early stage seems to be cornerback. Of course, we will see Akayleb Evans get his first career start this week. If the fourth-round rookie continues from his impressive display last weekend, deputizing for the injured Cameron Dantzler, the cornerback position might fall down the priority list, especially as we are yet to see much from second-round rookie Andrew Booth.
The most interesting question regarding next year’s draft is — should the Vikings be looking at a quarterback? Damian Parson of The Draft Network sent one the Vikings way in his latest mock draft. No blockbuster trade that saw the Vikings gambling the future was made. The selection is Anthony Richardson, quarterback for the Florida Gators, with the 29th overall pick.
Here is what Parson had to say about sending Richardson to Minnesota;
Here is the biggest twist of this NFL mock draft. The Vikings have one loss this season and look to be headed toward the playoffs. Kirk Cousins’ contract has a void after the 2023 season. Anthony Richardson is a physically-gifted athlete with a rocket arm. He is inexperienced as a first-year starter for the Gators, but the ceiling is tantalizing. Imagine him being molded by head coach Kevin O’Connell before taking over an offense with Dalvin Cook, Justin Jefferson, and T.J. Hockenson. I can hear the Skol chants now!
Damian Parson, The Draft Network
Anthony Richardson is a fascinating choice, and this isn’t the first time he has been suggested as s potential pick for the Vikings.
The first thing to note is that he would be coming into the NFL with only one year of college football experience as a starting quarterback. Richardson has been inconsistent this season. His performances have varied from excellent to very bad, but he has found some consistency in recent weeks. Where his draft stock lies next year could depend on how he finishes his season. Richardson would benefit from coming into a good situation in Minnesota, with no rush for him to be named the starting quarterback. Kirk Cousins will remain the Vikings starting QB for at least the 2023 season.
The Vikings drafted Kellon Mond in the third round of the 2021 draft. However, with a new general manager and head coach in town, Mond was let go. There’s a reasonable chance that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell want to bring in their own young quarterback.
Life after Cousins
Do the Vikings need to be thinking about quarterback? In my opinion, yes. When your quarterback is 34 years old and will be 36 going into the 2024 season when his current contract runs out, thinking about life after Cousins should be on the agenda for the Vikings hierarchy.
Cousins already has two void years at the end of his contract. Will the Vikings want to give Cousins more years of big guaranteed money and likely push void years further down the road?
That may well depend on Cousins’s performance for the remainder of the season. There’s a lot of football ahead, and we shall see where this season takes us. At this moment, everything is positive, and with the Vikings sitting with a 7-1 record, way out in front at the top of the NFC North division. Thinking about Cousins’ potential successor will not be at the forefront of most people’s minds. For those in charge of planning that future, it should be. Whatever happens this season, the future of the quarterback position will be on the minds of Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell.
For comparison, the Kansas City Chiefs won their division in 2016 with a veteran pro bowl quarterback. They then selected Patrick Mahomes with the 10th overall pick of the 2017 draft.
Alex Smith led the Chiefs to another division title and was chosen for another Pro Bowl in 2017. However, the Chiefs lost in the playoffs at the first attempt in both seasons and turned to Mahomes in 2018. The rest, as they say, is history. Kansas City has continued to dominate their division but also has reached the AFC championship game as a minimum every year since Mahomes took over — twice making it to the Super Bowl and once hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
The 2023 Draft
That doesn’t mean that the 2023 draft is “quarterback, no matter what.” Nor does it bring a guarantee of success; there is as much chance that the Vikings draft the next Josh Rosen as they draft the next Mahomes.
If the Vikings stay in a position to draft late in the first round, I don’t necessarily advocate trading multiple picks to go after a QB. However, it should undoubtedly be considered if one is on the board when it’s the Vikings turn to pick. At the same time, if there’s a cornerback or a defensive lineman on the board that the Vikings believe can be the difference-maker to make a run for the Super Bowl in 2023, then you make that move.
The draft is a long way down the road, and there will be many different ideas about what the Vikings should do. Quarterback is just one to keep an eye on.