Vikings Exploring Ties to Exciting Gunslinger to Replace Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins and Kevin O'Connell

Getty Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell and quarterback Kirk Cousins.

The Minnesota Vikings are exploring potential first-round quarterback targets to replace Kirk Cousins and have scheduled a meeting with consensus No. 2 overall pick Drake Maye at the NFL Scouting Combine.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on February 28 that Maye is meeting with the Vikings, who hold the 11th pick in the draft, this week in Indianapolis.

The University of North Carolina prospect will also meet with the Chicago Bears (who hold the No. 1 overall pick), Washington Commanders (No. 2), New England Patriots (No. 3), New York Giants (No. 6), Atlanta Falcons (No. 8) New York Jets (No. 10) and the New Orleans Saints (No. 14).

The Vikings have a connection to Maye after hiring former NFL quarterback Josh McCown as their new quarterbacks coach. McCown coached Maye at Myers Park High School in Charlotte back in 2019, sparking speculation that the Vikings could make a move to trade up in the draft to land the 21-year-old prospect.

Drake Maye Deemed Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell’s Ideal Rookie QB

Washington Commanders, Drake Maye

GettyDrake Maye attempts to a pass for the University of North Carolina.

While the Vikings did attempt to trade up in last year’s draft to land a top-3 quarterback prospect, the organization under Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell have hedged their interest in this year’s draft class.

“They were thinking about Caleb Williams and Drake Maye even at this point last year. There’s been a lot of work done in this building through the course of the fall on these rookie QBs,” Star Tribune beat reporter Ben Goessling said on a December 28 episode of the “Access Vikings” podcast, adding that the Vikings are inclined to take a chance at trade up this year.

While the Bears would likely lock the Vikings out of landing Williams No. 1 overall, Maye could be in play for the Vikings.

Vikings play-by-play broadcaster Paul Allen broached the subject on “The Life Gorgeous” podcast and suggested Maye is the ideal quarterback for Kevin O’Connell’s scheme that requires accuracy and toughness to stand in the pocket a deliver the football.

“Personally, for the way O’Connell runs things here, Maye is my favorite of those, with Williams being out of the equation,” Allen said, adding that LSU dual-threat Jayden Daniels would require a scheme change. “I love Daniels, he’s super athletic, but there is a system that [has] proven it works, and that’s how things go here.”

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Maye was the most effective passer over the middle of the field, and at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, he is a durable athlete who can excel inside the pocket. and create space for himself.

“[Maye] had a 94.8 PFF passing grade on throws in between the college hashes, which led all FBS quarterbacks with at least 50 attempts. To be a consistent passer over the middle of the field, quarterbacks need to be on time with their progressions, and Maye can do that at a consistently high level,” PFF’s Nick Akridge wrote. “He knows how to hold underneath defenders with his eyes while throwing the ball right behind them with good anticipation.”

Vikings Insider Believes Team Will Trade Up If They Move On From Kirk Cousins

Kirk Cousins, Minnesota Vikings

GettyKirk Cousins #8 of the Minnesota Vikings.

While draft speculation continues to stir, the Vikings intentions at the draft can’t be determined until they learn whether Cousins will return or walk in free agency.

If Cousins garners an offer that blows away the deal the Vikings have offered Cousins for the past year, the Vikings will be more inclined to sell the farm and trade up knowing 2024 will be a buffer year for the team’s championship ambitions.

Goessling said he believes that the Vikings are more inclined to pay the cost of landing a future franchise quarterback after wavering on moving on from Cousins the past two seasons.

“If they were to say, ‘We have to be in the top five to get one of these guys, or the top two or three to get one of these guys, I don’t think they’re going to let that hold them back,” Goessling said. “I really think,  based on the way they operated last year and the things I’ve heard,  if they see there is an opportunity to get the guy of the next 20 years, they are not going to let something stop them from doing it. I really believe, based on how they think about this position and some of the things I’ve heard about the ways they may approach this draft, I just don’t think they’re going to be pennywise and tomfoolish. They’re not going to be spendthrift about it.”