New QB Emerges Among Vikings’ Top Targets After Darnold/McCown Connection Revealed

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Vikings

Getty General manager Kwesi Adolfo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have positioned themselves to trade into the top 5 of the coming NFL draft for a quarterback, but their plans may be different than most have assumed.

Field Yates of ESPN predicted Saturday that Minnesota will deal its No. 11 pick, along with the 23rd overall selection it acquired from the Houston Texans last week and a 2025 first, to the Los Angeles Chargers in exchange for the right to choose a quarterback at No. 5.

“I do not view the signing of [Sam] Darnold as prohibitive to drafting a quarterback,” Yates wrote. “That deal just gives the Vikings insurance under center, and Minnesota really needs to reset at the position and find its long-term guy. [J.J.] McCarthy is widely viewed as the fourth-best QB in this class and was sixth in completion percentage last season at Michigan (72.3%). A new era for the Vikings arrives.”

Yates projection is the most reasonable of the possible outcomes, though it makes a couple of assumptions. First, it assumes that the Washington Commanders and New England Patriots will pass on McCarthy and select Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye, respectively. That isn’t a guarantee.

Secondly, it assumes that the Patriots are unwilling to move off the third pick for any draft package, and that the Vikings are interested enough in McCarthy to settle for him at No. 5.

However, Alec Lewis of The Athletic offered some reporting on Wednesday, March 20, which reveals a deep connection between Darnold and Minnesota’s new QB coach Josh McCown to Maye during their time as quarterbacks on the New York Jets‘ roster.

“Pretty wild: When Josh McCown (Vikings QB coach) was in the Jets QB room with Sam Darnold (Vikings QB), they would review Drake Maye’s film together in some of their off time…” Lewis wrote.

Vikings Must Land Preferred QB if Trade Costs 3 First-Round Picks

Drake Maye, Minnesota Vikings

GettyQuarterback Drake Maye, formerly of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

That McCown worked as Maye’s quarterbacks coach at Myers Park High School in North Carolina is already a well-known fact in NFL circles and amongst interested fans with an eye turned toward April’s draft.

However, the triangular connection between McCown, Darnold and Maye that existed before McCown even took that job adds a new wrinkle to how Minnesota may approach the draft.

Yates believes the Vikings are willing to hand over three first-round picks over the next two years to secure their franchise QB after losing Kirk Cousins in free agency. Given the value of an elite prospect at such an important position playing on a rookie contract, as well as the Vikings’ specific need to land a legit signal-caller now to appease wide receiver Justin Jefferson, Yates’ assumption is more than fair.

But are the Vikings willing to sacrifice that much draft capital for whoever is left at pick No. 5? Or will the front office feel that so valuable a package ought to get them to No. 3 and put them in position to take whoever remains after the Chicago Bears presumably draft Caleb Williams first and the Commanders take who they take second?

The latter is more likely, even if general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must throw in an extra asset beyond three first-rounders to convince the Patriots that they don’t need to select a QB third overall.

Drake Maye Looking More and More Like Vikings’ Top QB Target in NFL Draft

drake maye

GettyFormer UNC quarterback Drake Maye.

The connections between McCown and Maye are several, considerably more than just those mentioned above.

The additions of McCown and Darnold in Minnesota, and the Vikings’ need for a quarterback along with their willingness to orchestrate a blockbuster trade to acquire one is too much cumulative evidence pointing toward an end game of selecting Maye for even the casual observer to ignore.

“The team’s decision-makers have said they would be willing to pursue an aggressive trade up the NFL Draft board if the circumstances made sense,” Lewis wrote. “All of this, and now one of the Vikings’ central coaching figures has a real relationship with one of the most sought-after quarterback options?”

None of that guarantees Minnesota will land Maye, even if the franchise can get all the way to the third pick, as the Commanders could still foil that plan by selecting the quarterback second overall. But reading the ti leaves, it is hard to imagine the Vikings won’t do everything they can to get their man, and Maye appears more and more likely to be that man with each passing report.

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