The Minnesota Vikings are stuck in quarterback purgatory as they move through the bye week, and the front office is already working hard on answers for next season.
Unknowns include whether Kirk Cousins might return on a new contract or if Jaren Hall might prove a Day-3 draft steal should he ever find his way back into the starting lineup. One thing that’s certain, however, is that the Vikings are taking a hard look at a couple of standout collegiate QBs who could fall into their range in the first round next April.
Darren Wolfson of KSTP appeared on the Tuesday, November 28 edition of SKOR North’s Mackey & Judd show and reported that Minnesota is taking scouting seriously both Heisman hopeful Jayden Daniels of LSU and National Title contender J.J. McCarthy of Michigan.
“[Daniels] is a guy the Vikings are doing work on,” Wolfson said. “The amount of work they are doing on these quarterbacks, I will be surprised if they don’t go quarterback high.”
Jayden Daniels Has Been Historically Good on Offense in 2023
Daniels leads the nation with a QBR of 95.6, which stands alongside 40 touchdown passes as opposed to just 4 interceptions and 3,812 yards through the air. A true dual-threat quarterback, Daniels has also logged 135 carries for 1,134 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Daniels leads the country with a whopping 10.71 yards per play average, which has made the LSU offense a juggernaut and launched the QB into the Heisman discussion despite leading a three-loss team that finished third the SEC West.
The question is why would a player with that much raw talent whose game translates so well to the modern NFL fall down the draft board into the mid- or late-first round, where the Vikings will presumably be making their first pick?
Jayden Daniels’ Rising Draft Stock Could Take Him Out of Play for Vikings
“It’s time people pay more attention to what Jayden Daniels is doing for LSU,” Baumgardner wrote. “Would a team toward the bottom half of the first round be interested in taking a shot on him, a player who is still just 22 but has five years of college experience? It’s certainly possible.”
Less than two months later Dane Brugler, Baumgardner’s colleague at The Athletic, has Daniels’ stock skyrocketing into the top-10 range, projecting the QB to go No.7 to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“Tampa Bay will be in the mix to select this draft’s QB3, and Daniels could be it. He has a dynamic skill set to create explosive plays with his arm and legs,” Brugler wrote on November 29. “In studying his tape and seeing his continual improvements, you start to run out of reasons why he doesn’t belong. I think several teams slotted in the top 10 will think the same way.”
Vikings Could Make Play for Jayden Daniels Without Explicitly Tanking
If Brugler is correct, Daniels may be out of the Vikings’ reach. However, if Minnesota finishes the season on a sour note that could change.
The Vikings (6-6) currently hold the No. 20 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, per Tankathon. But the New Orleans Saints, the worst 5-6 team based on draft order, currently hold the No. 12 overall selection.
Minnesota has refused to tank in any way this season, as evidenced by the team’s decisions to hold onto both Cousins and outside linebacker Danielle Hunter ahead of the trade deadline.
But with real questions under center now that the Josh Dobbs hype has worn off, a couple more losses may incentivize the Vikings to go back to Hall to see what they have in the rookie and to better position themselves for a run at a talent like Daniels next April.