Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell Breaks Silence on Missing Top QB Pro Days

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings

Getty Head coach Kevin O'Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

While the NFL is buzzing about the 2024 draft’s top quarterback prospects’ pro days, the Minnesota Vikings‘ presence has not been felt with Kevin O’Connell not attending any pro days.

However, O’Connell cautioned local media not to read too far into his absence at pro days at the NFL owners’ meetings earlier this week.

The Vikings are taking a different approach to the pre-draft process, opting to spend more time with the top draft prospects on their board in private meetings.

So while many NFL head coaches contended for time after  Jayden Daniels,  Drake Maye and Michael Penix‘s pro days this week, O’Connell said he would be spending time getting to know Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy — whose pro day was last week — over a few days in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“Looking forward to spending some time with him over the next few days and getting to know him,” he told KFAN host Paul Allen on March 26.

Other quarterbacks will be afforded the same opportunity as McCarthy, with O’Connell looking to gauge not only the player on the field but also the person off the field.

“I want to be forming relationships with these guys and really starting to envision what it’s going to look like to be around each other every single day trying to build up our organization,” O’Connell said at the owners’ meetings, per Pioneer Press reporter Dan Mizutani.

“That’s the excitement of something like this, and I want them to feel that from me. I want them to feel like whether they end up being a Minnesota Viking or not, I want them all to look at it and say, ‘Man, I’d love to play for that guy. That would be a great opportunity.’ You earn that by what we do throughout the process.”

Vikings Looking to Build New Offense Around QB Prospect

Getty2024 NFL draft quarterback prospects (from left) Caleb Williams, J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels, and Michael Penix Jr.

The Vikings sent quarterbacks coach Josh McCown to Daniels and Maye’s pro days this week as both quarterbacks are favorites to be selected second overall.

Both quarterbacks impressed during their scripted workouts that they modeled to not only flash their strengths but also address their flaws.

However, these workouts paint the quarterback with broad brushstrokes, while O’Connell is looking to test prospects on a system he has planned for each prospect.

“You want to see how it fits within the framework of, not our system, rather the system that we want to build for them,” O’Connell said. “It’s a partnership with whoever we’re selecting to try to build something that we’ll all be really proud of.”

O’Connell added that he likes to watch film with prospects, illustrate concepts and see if they can remember the intention of the play to see how they process in real-time and their retention later.

Patriots, Commanders Have Control Over Vikings’ QB Destiny


GettyVikings Draft Night in 2018.

While several Vikings decision-makers seemed to be glowing at the NFL owners’ meetings, the organization is still at the will of Washington Commanders and New England Patriots.

The Commanders will strike the first domino in how the rest of the top six picks could play out. If they take the quarterback the Patriots are sold on, that leaves room for the Vikings to trade up with New England.

However, there’s also the possibility the Patriots are not convinced that any quarterback can overcome their current lack of offensive talent and their interest is merely to drive up the price of an eventual trade.

The price to trade up remains the question for the Vikings who are willing to sell the farm to get a quarterback. The ideal path inside the top-five picks would allow the Vikings to retain some future draft capital and still get their guy.