Alright Vikings fans, its what you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time to start talking quarterbacks.
We have come to the conclusion that Kirk Cousins is not the answer for the Minnesota Vikings and fans all across Twitter have been scouring college football for the next starting quarterback. It became the norm for Vikings Twitter so fast that friend of the site Matthew Coller went to the masses and #SKOLSearching was born.
It pairs incredibly well with this series, as we are all searching for the first true franchise quarterback since Fran Tarkenton. As far as the quarterbacks are concerned, we all know the big names. One thing that fans need to be aware of is that the Vikings might not be in position to get one of the top guys, nor have the capital to move up for one. It’s a smart idea to get acclimated with all of the prospects.
Simply put: Trevor is the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck and I wouldn’t fault you for thinking he’s better. Lawrence has everything you could ask for. Strong, accurate arm, mobility, poise, and intelligence. Pair that with his low-key excellent ability to run the football and you have a truly elite prospect.
His decision-making can lapse on occasion but it’s so few and far between that it’s really not a major issue. Lawrence’s ability to drop the ball in a bucket is astounding and he makes those wow throws that we see on a weekly basis from guys in the NFL like Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson.
One of the tough parts about the evaluation of Justin Fields right now is that the offense he plays in. There have only been two successful quarterbacks that have come from Urban Meyer’s system: Alex Smith and Dak Prescott. While Dak came from this system, Dan Mullen modifies his version of the system to suit each quarterback more than Urban Meyer has. While there will be questions about the system, there are not going to be questions about the raw talent. He was the 1B to Trevor Lawrence’s 1A coming out of high school and the traits back it up. Not only is he a physical, dynamic runner, but also a calculated passer with an excellent arm. After a 40 touchdown and 2 interception season, seeing Justin Fields repeat it with some improved consistency and better poise in the pocket could make a choice a little more difficult for the team that selects number one.
Of the 3 quarterbacks in the top tier, Trey Lance is the most intriguing. We just don’t quite know who he is yet, but the flashes have been incredible. At NDSU last season, Lance threw for 2800 yards and 28 touchdowns while rushing for 1,100 more and 14 touchdowns. He has great poise in the pocket with a strong and accurate arm and has no issue taking shots. Daniel Jeremiah from the NFL Network said it best in his preliminary scouting report on Lance with him being “selectively agressive.”
“He had zero interceptions. When I saw that number, I expected to find an overly cautious player on tape. That wasn’t the case, though. He is selectively aggressive. When there are big-play opportunities, he lets it rip and will fit the ball in tight quarters. However, he’s very content to take his checkdown options if nothing emerges down the field. He makes full-field reads, and he’s very quick to get to his third option before delivering the ball to the proper location.“
His flaws are minimal but mainly come from needing more snaps. Continuing to grow with ball placement and mechanics while continuing his ability to process quickly and read the entire field will likely be the key. I think Lance would be best suited with a Patrick Mahomes type redshirt season to help make the transition easier, but don’t be surprised if he comes onto the field and lights it up early and often.
After a solid season taking over for the injured Felipe Franks, Kyle Trask was the main quarterback that needed this season to improve his draft stock and he has done that so far. I wrote up a breakdown this summer of Trask for Blue Chip Scouting and I came away very impressed. He displayed great pocket presence and accuracy along with functional arm strength to make all the throws needed. What has been really impressive this season is how he has improved with his decision making and grown even more with pocket presence. Trask is really intriguing because he has only approximately 1,000 in game reps over the last 7 years while being stuck behind current Miami QB D’Eriq King in high school and now Arkansas QB Felipe Franks. There is still a lot of room to grow for Trask. While he still doesn’t have the strongest arm, neither did guys like Drew Brees or this years number one pick Joe Burrow. If he continues his upward trajectory, he could be the 4th quarterback drafted.
The current favorite of both Vikings and draft Twitter, Zack Wilson is one of the funnest players in the nation. Having been the starter for BYU the last two seasons, Wilson was awesome to watch but not what you would have called a top tier prospect. His decision making was suspect and accuracy wasn’t there, but the talent flashed and his will to win popped off the screen. This season, Wilson has taken a huge step forward. Some call him Mormon Manziel but I think that is an insult. Manziel would play a very reckless style of football that would get him bailed out. Some of the throws that Wilson makes leads me to believe that he will have a new nickname by seasons end: Mormon Mahomes. His ability to work off platform with accuracy and precision is uncanny and very reminiscent of the NFL MVP. While he has a lot of fine tuning to do before the draft, he is going to be a player that warrants being monitored as a potential first-round pick.
By far the biggest surprise this season has been the performance of Mac Jones at Alabama. At the end of last season, I thought I saw some potential in him but there were some struggles. His accuracy and decision making were suspect early but he seemed to have put it all together in the bowl game against Michigan. While his traits won’t jump off the page, there isn’t a real weakness to his game. A jack of all trades, master of none kind of quarterback, Mac Jones throws an absolutely beautiful deep ball. If the Vikings keep their regime in tact, he would be a really good fit for this system. Jones is a good rhythm passer and throws well on the move. Will their be concerns about the talent around him keeping him upright? Sure, but you can’t use that argument when it comes to dropping it in the bucket like he does on this throw.
After a really rough performance against Michigan, some will write the Minnesota quarterback off but I think that’s a little premature. He had a very good season in 2019 including being a top 5 quarterback in efficiency and yards per attempt. His play reminded me a lot of 2016 Baker Mayfield. Accurate poised thrower who can make every throw but needs a season to refine his game. Can he be the next quarterback to make a meteoric rise? I’m not fully sold on it, but I also wouldn’t be completely shocked either.
During his freshman season at Texas, Shane Buchele beat a really good Notre Dame team early in the season and I thought Texas was in good hands and was back. Unfortunately, neither ended up being true as Sam Ehlinger took over the starting job and Buchele transferred to SMU. Over the last two seasons, Buchele has had a lot of success in the air raid system they run there. He has put up a lot of yards and points but has overall been inconsistent. On film, you will see a lot of NFL caliber throws and a lot of poor gunslinger type decisions. As a prospect, his arm and skillset are worth taking a chance on, but he’s a project that will need some time behind an incumbent starter.
While we all want that franchise quarterback, patience is also needed in finding that player. Approximately 1 of every 2 first-round quarterbacks ends up becoming a bust, so you need to ensure that every avenue has been thoroughly examined. One thing is for sure, there are a lot of potential options out there for the Vikings, we just need the front office to agree that a change needs to be made.