Five Late-Round Developmental QBs the Vikings Could Target in the NFL Draft
Based on what Rick Spielman, Mike Zimmer, and Gary Kubiak have said this offseason, it's seeming more and more clear that the Vikings view Kirk Cousins as a franchise quarterback and will look to work out an extension with him before long. It's hard to blame them, considering Cousins is coming off of one of the best statistical seasons from a quarterback in Vikings history.
Cousins has his limitations – specifically, making plays off-script and outside of the pocket – but his accuracy, arm strength, and football IQ would be highly difficult to replace. If he can continue to improve in his second year under Kubiak, Cousins could stake his claim as one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He'll never be Patrick Mahomes, but he might just be good enough to contend for a championship with the right pieces around him.
What that means is that the Vikings are unlikely to draft a quarterback early on in April. Even if Jordan Love or Jacob Eason were to fall to pick No. 25, Spielman will almost certainly stay away and focus on finding an impact player for the secondary or the trenches. They're probably not going to take someone like Jake Fromm or Jalen Hurts in the middle rounds, either.
But once the draft gets into Day 3 and the Vikings have addressed some of their major needs, don't be surprised if they wind up taking a developmental QB. Backup Sean Mannion is an unrestricted free agent, and the Vikings could do much better at that spot. Practice squad rookie Jake Browning was the team's third-stringer in 2019, but it would make sense to draft someone to bring in as competition for the backup job if Mannion signs elsewhere.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller reported this week that the Vikings are carefully studying this year's QB class.
Addressing the offensive line is a need, but I'm told the team will do serious work on the quarterback class. Kirk Cousins is a free agent after the 2020 season, and the team has no young developmental quarterback on the roster behind him.
Here are five late-round quarterbacks with intriguing upside that the Vikings could target. All five attended the combine this week.
James Morgan, Florida International
Morgan's stock is on the rise. He was the best quarterback at the East-West Shrine Bowl in January, and was highly impressive during his throwing session at the NFL Combine on Thursday. A native of Green Bay, Morgan (pictured at the top of this article) began his career at Bowling Green and transferred to FIU after two seasons. During his two years in Miami, the 6-foot-4 Morgan threw 40 touchdowns with just 12 interceptions. His arm talent and pocket awareness are strong traits that could translate well at the NFL level.
Anthony Gordon, Washington State
Gordon is a fascinating prospect for a number of reasons. He took over for Gardner Minshew in Mike Leach's air raid offense and exceeded Minshew's numbers from 2018. Gordon threw for a ridiculous 5,579 yards and 48 touchdowns in 13 games, completing 71.6 percent of his nearly 700 attempts. That included 570 yards and nine (9!) touchdowns against UCLA, and 606 yards and six touchdowns against Oregon State. He's got great leadership skills, arm talent, and a quick release, but needs to make better reads and progressions at times. Is he more Minshew or Luke Falk?
Cole McDonald, Hawaii
McDonald showed off his impressive athleticism during Thursday's combine testing. He finished first among all quarterbacks with a 4.58-second 40-yard dash (beating Hurts by 0.01) and a 36-inch vertical jump. His incredible arm strength, dual-threat potential, and gunslinger mentality will make him appealing to teams late in the draft. McDonald is another guy who has all the physical traits to become a solid QB at the NFL level, but has a long way to go with his progressions, anticipation, and football IQ. These are considered developmental QBs for a reason.
Steven Montez, Colorado
Montez, like McDonald, is intriguing because of his combination of size (both players are 6-foot-4) and athleticism. Montez ran a 4.68 40, trailing only McDonald and Hurts among quarterbacks. He has good pocket awareness and is strong and accurate on short and intermediate throws, especially when he's in rhythm. However, Montez didn't seem to improve much during his three years as a starter. He needs to improve his processing, decision-making, and deep ball accuracy to stick in the NFL.
Jake Luton, Oregon State
We finish our list with another west-coast quarterback prospect. Luton had a breakout senior season for the Beavers, throwing for 28 touchdowns with just three interceptions. At 6-foot-7, he could be considered a poor man's Eason within this QB class. He actually is pretty mobile for his frame. His lower-body mechanics need to improve, but there's plenty to like about Luton's production and skill set in the late rounds.
A few more names to know: Nate Stanley, Iowa; Brian Lewerke, Michigan State; Bryce Perkins, Virginia; Kelly Bryant, Missouri; Tyler Huntley, Utah
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