No free agency. No salary cap.
Just four picks to choose from a selection of 128 “foundational” players to build a franchise around, while the rest of the roster would be made up of average NFL players.
Each teams’ beat reporter assumed the role of general manager and were responsible for drafting a quarterback, a non-QB offensive player, a defensive player and a wild card selection for the fourth pick. The goal? To assemble a team that had the potential to win a Super Bowl in the next five years.
Vikings team reporter Courtney Cronin took the common route and drafted a quarterback with her first pick. But it wasn’t real-world Vikings quarterback, Kirk Cousins.
Instead, she and selected Ryan Tannehill No. 25 overall after 17 quarterbacks had been taken in the first round. Cousins was the 24th quarterback off the board, which Dolphins reporter Cameron Wolfe found to be a steal in the third round.
Cronin also selected Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (No. 40), San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (No. 89) and Vikings safety Harrison Smith (No. 104). Here’s her explainer on her draft choices:
”I grabbed Tannehill, who I see as a top-15 QB talent, with my first-round selection and built around him. The 2019 season was the best of Tannehill’s career, and I believe bringing a true No. 1 receiver like Adams into the mix will allow him to carry over that success for the next three to five years. Adams has the second-most receiving touchdowns (28) over the past three seasons and shows up when it counts the most, with 45 catches for 687 yards and six touchdowns in eight playoff games.
The value I got for a pass-rusher (another key part of a Super Bowl team) in the third round, when I landed Armstead coming off a 10-sack breakout season, made me feel like I was building a solid, balanced team. I chose Smith with my wild-card pick because when a future Hall of Famer is available, you take him, especially one who makes plays all over the defense. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he’s the only player in the league with 20-plus interceptions (23) and 10-plus sacks (13) since 2012.”
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Is Tannehill a Better Option Over Cousins?
The careers of Tannehill and Cousins are remarkably similar. Both were drafted in 2012 and spent years on struggling teams as gunslingers before finding new homes and success as game managers. But there seems to be a discrepancy in their value as Cousins slipped into the bottom half of league quarterbacks and it may be their real-life draft positions.
Tannehill, who was picked No. 8 overall in the 2012 draft and spent six years on the Miami Dolphins before his resurgence last year as the Tennessee Titans starting quarterback. Cousins was taken in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins before joining the Vikings. Tannehill was a Day 1 starter for the Dolphins, while Cousins spent three years as a backup before getting his shot at starting in 2015.
Despite starting in seven fewer games, Cousins has thrown for nearly 1,000 more yards and has 10 more passing touchdowns and a better career quarterback rating of 96.8 compared to Tannehill’s 89.8.
Cronin said she’s counting on Tannehill’s 2019 improvements to carry over for the next five years, and his stats were impressive. Tannehill finished the season averaging 9.6 yards per pass attempt and had 26 total TDs in 10 games — all without an elite wide receiver.
Whether Tannehill would be an upgrade over Cousins is left to the imagination, but as both 31-year-olds are reaching the prime of their careers, it is interesting to speculate how the Vikings would fare with a different quarterback.
Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire