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The Late-Round Rookie QB Worth the Vikings Gamble

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Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) check the play at line during the second half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins is under contract through the end of next season, will be 35 this summer, and has led the franchise to the postseason twice in five years.

It is unknown as of January 31st if Vikings bossman Kwesi Adofo-Mensah plans to extend Cousins’ contract by extra years — that’s what Minnesota usually does around this time of year — but regardless of that outcome, the Vikings could stand to take a flyer on a rookie quarterback.

The Late-Round Rookie QB Worth the Vikings Gamble

And if Minnesota is feeling frisky at quarterback at the end of April, it should investigate Clayton Tune from the University of Houston as a candidate to learn behind Cousins for at least one year.

Rookie QB Worth the Vikings
Oct 22, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) drops back to pass during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports.

Tune won’t be chosen anywhere near the 1st Round of the 2023 NFL Draft — unless funky stuff happens between now and April 27th — so any NFL team can have a crack at him. He’s projected as a Day-3 pick as of late January.

Former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman opined on Tune this week, writing for The 33rd Team, “Tune was a kid who stuck out to me a little bit. When I watch tape of him, he is a big kid (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) with a big arm. He can make all the throws necessary at the NFL level. He is not a great athlete, but he moves well enough to maybe buy a second chance.”

Nov 12, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) warms up on the sideline during the third quarter against the Temple Owls at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports.

“He’s not going to beat anyone with his scrambling ability, and he struggled a little bit in the Texas Tech game. But this guy has a strong arm and was productive. So I’m eager to see his size and ability to throw the ball on that platform at the Senior Bowl,” Spielman concluded.

Tune’s alleged weaknesses include pocket presence and NFL-ready mechanics, but he did something right at Houston in 2022, diming 4,074 passing yards in 13 games, with 45 total touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

NFL Draft Buzz claims Tune has “enough arm strength to drive the ball through tight windows up to 20 yards downfield,” and “sees the field very well when the play breaks down and occasionally changes plays at the line.”

Nov 19, 2022; Greenville, North Carolina, USA; Houston Cougars quarterback Clayton Tune (3) throws the ball against the East Carolina Pirates during the second half at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports.

Our very own Josh Frey is enamored with Tune as well, mentioning the possibility of the Cougar to Minnesota, “Minnesota does need to start planning for a Kirk Cousins replacement, and Clayton Tune joins his Houston teammate Dell on the Vikings. Dell was the beneficiary of Tune throwing him the ball throughout his collegiate career, and the duo really broke out together in the Cougars offense.”

Frey also mock-drafted the aforementioned Tank Dell, Tune’s college teammate, to the Vikings, pairing the Houston QB-WR combo in Minnesota.

The idea here is redux of the Kellen Mond experiment from 2021 — one with [hopefully] more upside. Mond never took off with the Vikings and trekked to the Cleveland Browns as a QB3 last summer. But Tune may have more talent than Mond, and the Vikings employ a soon-to-be 35-year-old quarterback.

Tune deserves consideration from Adofo-Mensah — if only a glimpse.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.



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