Quarterback Kirk Cousins is under contract for one more season with the Minnesota Vikings, and they can see his replacement fall to them in the NFL Draft.
The Minnesota Vikings won 13 games last season, but were eliminated by the New York Giants in the Wild Card Round.
This offseason, the Vikings’ regime of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell are building the team in their image since arriving last year. The biggest signs of that were the team moving on from longtime wide receiver Adam Thielen and linebacker Eric Kendricks.
There is still some uncertainty, particularly at quarterback, as Kirk Cousins is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2023 season.
Obviously, there aren’t many quality quarterback options in free agency, as Cousins stands above them all talent wise. But what about the NFL Draft?
The Vikings select 22nd-overall, so that would put them out of the running for top prospects like Alabama’s Bryce Young and Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud. But there is one quarterback who could be available once they are on the clock.
Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker.
Hendon Hooker a Kirk Cousins replacement option for Vikings?
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote a piece ranking the quarterback prospects in order and in tiers. Hooker was ranked fifth-overall and in the third-tier, with scouts and executives giving him a ceiling of the bottom half of the first round and a floor of the second round.
Hooker wasn’t even considered a Day 1 prospect entering the 2022 season, but he changed minds with his stellar play with the Tennessee Volunteers. In 11 games played, Hooker threw for 3,123 yards, 27 touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 69.6-percent of his passes. But late in the season, Hooker tore his ACL.
Now after the pre-draft process, Hooker has worked his way to potentially be a first-round pick.
During a recent press conference, O’Connell discussed how they would handle a change at the quarterback position, and had some interesting comments about it.
“Ideally you would like to have that person in that role developing behind a great player like Kirk, but I don’t think you ever sacrifice it being the right player,” O’Connell said, h/t ProFootballTalk. “Regardless of the when, where, why, how, you can’t sacrifice that. You have to have ultra belief and connection on making that decision because it is such an important decision.”
ESPN NFL Draft expert Jordan Reid (subscription required) noted that the Vikings met with Kentucky’s Will Levis, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson at the Scouting Combine, and that the team hasn’t brought in a quarterback for a Top 30 visit. Reid also expressed his belief that the Vikings will only take a quarterback if the one they like falls to them, as they have just five picks in this year’s NFL Draft.
So, for the Vikings, they will need to feel really good about a quarterback to bring them in to eventually replace Cousins. That goes for Hooker. On Apr. 27, Vikings fans will be waiting to see if the first-round pick will be used on a quarterback, or on another position.