Kirk Cousins will be 35 years old before next season starts and he is on the last year of his contract. While Cousins might be offered an extension, the clock is ticking on what the future will look like for the Vikings at football’s most important position.
Cousins led Minnesota to eight fourth quarter comeback wins last season during a 13-4 regular season. He has been the starter since 2018, but he has never been considered one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. This year—or next for sure—it will be imperative for the Vikings to find Cousins’ successor even if Kirk is around for a couple seasons more. While finding a veteran quarterback via free agency or trade is certainly an option, it’s more likely GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and staff will find their QB of the future via the NFL Draft.
Marc Sessler, writing last month for NFL.com, rated 68 league quarterbacks based on their 2022 performances, regular season and playoffs. The top five rated QB’s were acquired by their teams through the draft.
No. 1 ranked Patrick Mahomes was acquired by the Chiefs because of a deal they made with the Bills prior to the 2017 draft. Kansas City sent the No. 27 and 91 selections, and their No. 1 for 2018, to Buffalo to secure the No. 10 overall pick in 2017. Mahomes later admitted he was given some inside information for a pre-draft meeting that impressed coach Andy Reid.
No. 2 Jalen Hurts of the Super Bowl champion Eagles wasn’t selected until the second round of the 2020 draft. Quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, Tua Tagovailoa and Jordan Love all heard their names called in the first round but concerns about Hurts’ arm strength and other perceived weaknesses dropped the Oklahoma star deep into the second round. But GM Howie Roseman thought it was imperative to draft a young QB and develop him. He was clairvoyant about Hurts.
The Bengals played bad football in 2019, finishing the season with a 2-14 record and having the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 draft fall to them. Burrow, No. 3 on Sessler’s list, was not a difficult decision after playing like a video game character in leading LSU to the national championship and winning the Heisman Trophy.
In 2018 the Bills weren’t deterred in drafting Josh Allen (No. 4 on the Sessler rankings) despite some controversial tweets surfacing at the time. The Bills moved up from No. 12 to No. 7 in the 2018 draft by completing a trade with the Bucs that sent two second round Buffalo selections and their No. 12 choice to Tampa Bay. Allen hasn’t been a behavior distraction in Buffalo and has led the Bills to a place among the NFL’s best teams..
Justin Herbert, No. 5 on the list, was selected No. 6 overall by the Chargers in that 2020 draft. He had made a mistake in a pre-draft meeting challenging his knowledge and thought the error might cost him the opportunity to land where he did in the draft, per an April 23, 2020 story in the Los Angeles Times. The Chargers, who had declined offers to give up their No. 6 pick, stuck with Herbert who became the team’s starter in the second game of his rookie season.
A few things stand out from reviewing these quarterbacks. All joined their teams at young ages and earned a place among the NFL’s best while positioning their teams to win for a long time. Only Hurts wasn’t a top 10 first round choice. Timely and strategic trades can get your team into a better draft position. Past character issues can be difficult to evaluate. The judgment of overall skills of prospects can differ from team to team.
The Athletics’ recent Mock Draft has the Vikings moving up from No. 23 to No. 7 by making a trade with the Raiders. Minnesota would select Kentucky QB Will Levis who doesn’t figure to last even close to No. 23. Levis, at about 6-4 and 229-pounds, has a strong arm and is physically tough. He played through injuries last season at Kentucky and fairly or not that may have contributed to flaws scouts see.
Lance Zierlein, writing for NFL.Com on Levis’ combine scouting report page, said there are concerns about his ball placement and accuracy. “…Levis’ talent is well worth an investment but could require a talented quarterback coach and a patient plan to tighten up his mechanics, rebuild his confidence and explore an offensive scheme that best suits him.”
Vikings personnel decision makers led by Adofo-Mensah, a little more than a year into the job after succeeding Rick Spielman, will have to figure out their quarterback dilemma. History shows it’s usually a challenging task and not a bad idea to keep a rabbit’s foot nearby.
Sessler’s list of best quarterbacks has Cousins ranked No. 17, two spots below the 49ers’ Brock Purdy, a rookie last season and the last player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft.
The late Herb Brooks would have been delighted with the scene and outcome of last night’s Fargo Regional Championship at Scheels Arena. The University of Minnesota, the school where Brooks played college hockey and coached to three national championships in the 1970s, defeated St. Cloud State, a program Brooks brought to prominence with his world-class coaching in the 1980s.
Minnesota’s 4-1 win sends the Gophers to Tampa for the Frozen Four starting April 6 against Boston University and an opportunity to emerge as national champions. The Gophers have won five NCAA national titles, with Brooks led teams winning in 1974, 1976 and 1979. The success back then left observers thinking the Gophers would rattle off many more but Don Lucia’s national champs in 2002 and 2003 are the program’s only other Frozen Four winners.
The 2023 team has achieved greatness, maintaining a No. 1 national ranking and winning the Big Ten regular season championship and Fargo Regional. When the Gophers defeated No. 6 ranked St. Cloud State it was an NCAA-best 12th victory over a top 10 team.
Brooks, who died in a 2003 car accident, would have appreciated the connections Gophers coach Bob Motzko has to both Minnesota and St. Cloud where the team plays at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. Motzko, the former Huskies head coach, was an assistant on those last Minnesota national championship teams.
Something else Brooks would have liked was the all-tournament team comprised exclusively of Minnesota and St. Cloud players. Now all that’s left is for the Gophers to achieve what Brooks set as the standard at Minnesota.
Jerome Tang, the first-year basketball coach at Kansas State who led the surprising Wildcats to the Elite Eight, was born in Trinidad and Tobago but as a young man attended North Central Bible College (now North Central University) in Minneapolis. Tang was a superb defensive assistant coach at Baylor before joining Kansas State.
The new group of Gophers boosters who want to raise six-figure money dedicated to NIL for men’s and women’s basketball will work under the umbrella of Dinkytown Athletes. The Gopher athletic department is boosting its commitment to NIL including creation of a new fundraising staff position that will work with Dinkytown Athletes.
Ex-Gopher junior Jamison Battle, who has left the program to play at another college program or professionally overseas, has a profile page on European basketball. https://basketball.eurobasket.com/player/Jamison-Battle/498805
BlueGoldNews.com reported new Gophers women’s basketball coach Dawn Plitzuweit has a $612,500 buyout owed to her former school, West Virginia. Buyouts are typically paid by the new employer, rather than the individual.
The Pioneer Press lost an elite sports journalist in Chris Tomasson who is now writing for the online only Denver Gazette covering the NFL Broncos. His work ethic and reporting on the Vikings beat is among the best-ever here.
One other Motzko tidbit.. he was Herb Brooks Student Assistant at SCSU, after playing for the Huskies. Also on that Herbie team.. Mike Brodzinski (father of current Gopher star Bryce Brodzinski!)