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Which teams ahead of the Vikings in the 2024 NFL Draft need a quarterback?

The Vikings could be interested in a quarterback in this year's draft, but who will they have to jump to get one?
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With the season coming to a close for the Minnesota Vikings, attention turns to what they will do at the quarterback position.

Kirk Cousins is a free agent and while the Vikings have interest in bringing him back, they also need to think about their future beyond the 35-year-old coming off a torn Achilles' tendon.

This year's NFL Draft is loaded at the quarterback position, including blue-chip prospects Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels and has intriguing sleepers such as Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. But the Vikings will also compete with several teams that also need a quarterback.

Here's a look at some of the teams ahead of the Vikings that need a quarterback in this year's draft.

Chicago Bears

The Bears secured the No. 1 overall pick after passing on Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud in last year's draft. While Stroud answered the quarterback questions for the Houston Texans, the Bears cashed in with a chance to draft Caleb Williams.

Justin Fields has played better in the second half of the season, throwing for 202 yards per game, five touchdowns and three interceptions over his last six games, but Williams is a generational talent.

The Bears may trade Fields and draft Williams to try and solve the void at quarterback for the next decade.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders were hoping that they had a solution in Sam Howell, but the former North Carolina product could be replaced with a current one.

Howell has struggled in his first full season as a starter, throwing for 3,793 yards and 20 touchdowns but leading the NFL with 19 interceptions. New owner Josh Harris could look to make a splash by installing a new regime, which likely means a new quarterback.

Maye would be the pick here as a strong-armed prospect who's thrown for 8,018 yards, 63 touchdowns and 16 interceptions over the past two seasons at UNC. 

New England Patriots

The Bill Belichick era could be coming to an end in New England and just like we mentioned with the Commanders, a new regime likely means a new quarterback.

2021 first-round pick Mac Jones hasn't panned out (2,120 yards, 10 TD, 12 INT this season) and Bailey Zappe (1,184 yards, 6 TD, 7 INT) isn't the answer either.

This could lead the Patriots to the draft and take LSU's Jayden Daniels, who threw for 3,812 yards, 40 touchdowns and four interceptions and ran for 1,134 yards and 10 touchdowns on the way to winning the Heisman Trophy. But what if current Vikings defensive coordinator Brian Flores gets the job and brings Cousins to Foxborough? 

This could create a potential trade target for the Vikings, who would have a precedent after the Texans traded the 33rd overall pick in 2023 as well as a 2024 first-round pick and a 2024 third-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals to move up from pick No. 12 to pick No. 3 to select edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. in last year's draft.

Is that too rich for the Vikings' blood? Possibly. But if the prediction of The Film Room's Brett Kollman is true, it might be the cost of doing business.

Arizona Cardinals

If the Vikings decide that's too much to give up, they could be looking to make a move in the back half of the top 10. The Cardinals need picks to build around Kyler Murray, but they could also look for an upgrade at quarterback if they're not sold on his long-term future.

The problem is that the top tier of quarterbacks could be off the board by the time Arizona is on the clock. The Vikings could be interested in Penix Jr., but his advanced age (he'll turn 24 in May) and injury history could have him going later than expected.

The same goes for Nix, who put up monster numbers at Oregon with 4,508 passing yards, 45 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, NCAA record 77.4 percent completion rate but had just a 4.1 percent big time throw rate* according to Pro Football Focus.

(Note: PFF defines a big time throw as a pass with excellent ball location and timing, generally thrown further down the field and/or into a tighter window.)

While either quarterback could surge up the big board during the pre-draft prospect, it might be too early to pull the trigger and the Cardinals might want to take top wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. anyway. Either way, Arizona is poised to be the wild card of the draft.

New York Giants

One year after Daniel Jones shredded Ed Donatell's defense twice en route to signing a four-year, $160 million contract last spring, the Giants are reportedly in the market for a quarterback in this year's draft.

Jones had a tough year, throwing for 909 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions while battling through a neck injury before tearing his ACL on Nov. 5. Due to his injury, the Giants are on the hook for a $47.1 million cap hit in 2024 but can get out of the contract with $22.2 million in dead cap in 2025.

This paves the way for the Giants to take a quarterback, but there may not be one available. This could lead New York to build around Jones and hope they have a chance to take a quarterback later in the draft or at the top of next year's draft.

Atlanta Falcons

Arthur Smith could be fired by the time you read this and as we've mentioned, a new regime usually means a new quarterback. But will the Falcons lean toward free agency and make a run at Cousins or will they dive into the draft?

Tankathon has the Falcons selecting Penix Jr. with this pick and if that's the quarterback the Vikings want, they may have to make a deal with a team like the Los Angeles Chargers or Tennessee Titans to land the Washington star.

Strangely enough, there is also a precedent of trading up from No. 12, where the Vikings currently are, to No. 6, where the Chargers currently are, from last year's draft. 

The Cardinals traded a 2023 second-round pick (No. 34) and a 2023 fifth-round pick (No. 168) to move up six spots to select offensive tackle Paris Johnson Jr. and that deal might be cheaper than the Patriots deal if the Vikings want to land a quarterback.

With Desmond Ridder (2,545 yards, 10 TD, 11 INT) failing to take the starting job this year, Atlanta will be one team to jump if the Vikings want a quarterback.

Las Vegas Raiders

As of Sunday morning, the Raiders are the last team ahead of the Vikings that could use a quarterback after Jimmy Garoppolo (1,205 yards, 7 TD, 9 INT) was benched and Aidan O'Connell (1,974 yards, 10 TD, 7 INT) proved to be nothing more than a stopgap.

Penix and Nix are the two most likely targets here as the Raiders will either make Antonio Pierce their full-time coach, or could be another potential landing spot for Flores. The Raiders could also push to sign Cousins in free agency, but it's more likely they hit the draft next April.

Minnesota Vikings

If you're keeping score at home, that's seven teams ahead of the Vikings that need a quarterback in next year's draft. While landing a franchise signal-caller is a possibility, it would also have to take a major move and a team willing to make it happen.

This could lead to the Vikings coming up with a short-term deal for Cousins and keeping their options open later in the draft or in next year's free agency. Pro Football Focus projected that Cousins could get a two-year, $60 million contract with $37.5 million guaranteed in free agency, but that would go against Cousins's preference of fully guaranteed contracts dating back to his days with the Commanders.

If that happens, the Vikings could also continue to build around Cousins, selecting an edge rusher such as UCLA's Laiatu Latu or Alabama's Dallas Turner. They could also opt to build the secondary with Alabama cornerback Kool-Aid McKinstry or the defensive line with Illinois defensive lineman Jer'Zhan Newton.

The other aspect is that if Cousins re-signs, he becomes this regime's quarterback. With Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O'Connell entering the third year of their four-year contracts next season, they could find themselves on the hot seat if they bring back Cousins and he struggles in his recovery from an Achilles' injury.

It gives the Vikings' decision multiple layers heading into the offseason and a turning point for the direction of the franchise.