Vikings Poised to Settle on $10 Million QB, Draft Dominant Pass Rusher

Kevin O'Connell, Vikings

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

The Minnesota Vikings are posturing to trade up in the draft and land a quarterback in the top-five picks — but if that doesn’t work out, the backup plan for 2024 will include Sam Darnold.

Sportskeeda’s Tony Pauline reported on March 21 that the Vikings are willing to use the No. 11 overall pick to draft Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II after meeting with him this week at Texas’ pro day.

“Word since the Shrine Bowl was that the Vikings would take Murphy with the 11th pick of Round 1. Obviously the focus has shifted to the quarterback position. Yet the feeling they were giving off at pro day is that Murphy would be their contingency plan at 11 if no signal caller is available,” Pauline wrote.

The only option from there would be to select a quarterback with the No. 23 overall pick, acquired in a trade with the Houston Texans, or ride with Darnold as the starter for the 2024 season.

Even if the Vikings selected a lower-tier but fringe first-round quarterback like Michael Penix or Bo Nix with the 23rd pick, they’ll have a much harder case to make in becoming Day 1 starters behind Darnold given their draft status.

The Vikings traded their 2024 second-round pick and a 2025 second-round pick to land the Texans’ first-rounder. They have no second- or third-round picks in the draft.

Vikings Not Willing to Draft Just Any QB in 2024 NFL Draft

Adofo-Mensah, O'Connell, Vikings

GettyGeneral manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (left) and head coach Kevin O’Connell (right) of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings entertaining their options in the first round is a sign that they’re not willing to take just any quarterback in the draft.

While the benefits of a quarterback on a rookie-scale contract are well-documented, the Vikings want to land their quarterback of the next decade — not just five years.

Star Tribune reporter Ben Goessling entertained the notion of the Vikings selecting a blue-chip prospect back in December before they acquired another first-round pick that is a telltale sign they have, at the very least, ambitions of trading up — if not a plan already in place.

“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,” Goessling said on a December 28 episode of the Star Tribune’s “Access Vikings. “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.

“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,” Goessling added.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah put truth to Goessling’s words, revealing that there is a “preferred plan” with the additional first-rounder — but the move ultimately gives them “flexibility.”

Darnold, who signed a one-year, $10 million contract in March, is also part of their plans for flexibility.

Byron Murphy Is Worth the No. 11 Pick

Byron Murphy

GettyTexas defensive tackle Byron Murphy (90)

While the Vikings passing on a quarterback would create a frenzy in the fan base, Murphy is a viable option with the No. 11 overall pick.

Murphy is No. 9 on the Pro Football Focus (PFF) draft big board and the No. 2-graded interior defensive lineman in the country last season with a 91.1 PFF grade.

His combination of strength and speed translated against Power 5 competition as Murphy is one of the best interior rushers coming out of college the past five years.

Read More