Football’s Most Important Position Showing Signs of Health for the Vikings (Thanks to New GM & HC)

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) rolls out to pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Kirk Cousins will always have his detractors; it’s a reality as constant as gravity.

Criticisms and quibbles aside, Cousins has his merits. He has been the QB1 in Minnesota since 2018, never succumbing to injury within that time. As a result, the emphasis on the QB position as a whole was easy to overlook over these past several years. More recent days have pointed to a signs of health for the Vikings at the game’s most important position, though.

Mike Zimmer’s final season featured Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond as the main backups, a pair who were incapable of upsetting the Packers in a late-game match at Lambeau. Mannion was present for his brain and Mond was supposed to offer the upside. Unfortunately, Mannion’s strong understanding of the game seldom led to encouraging on-field play and Mond didn’t live up to his potential.

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Aug 27, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Kellen Mond. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports.

Fast forward a couple years and the position is looking totally different.

True, Cousins remains, but it’s the depth beyond him that provides reason for optimism. Nick Mullens was acquired via trade with the Las Vegas Raiders prior to the 2022 season. He was then re-signed by the Vikings on a 2-year agreement. Sitting behind Mr. Mullens is Jaren Hall, a rookie QB who impressed many with his solid preseason effort.

Add it all together and the Vikings have a top-12 in the NFL QB1, a gutsy, unafraid-of-the-moment QB2, and an upside developmental rookie at QB3. In other words, the Vikings have come a long way in not too long.

Signs of Health for the Vikings at QB

Finding Jaren Hall fans in The Gopher State shouldn’t be too difficult these days.

Aug 26, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall (16) hands the ball off to running back Abram Smith (41) against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The BYU alumnus was chosen in the 5th round of the most recent draft, a placement that suggests he’ll need plenty of time to develop. Basically nothing from the preseason suggests that he’s ready for a Week 1 starting assignment but that’s nowhere close to the goal with Hall. Instead, the emphasis rests on him continuing to learn behind a pair of great vets.

The third and final preseason game showed off some good progress. Take a look at how Kyle Sloter — yes, the former Vikings QB who was a preseason star — discusses one of Hall’s plays:

Part of the wise words from Sloter get cut off, so here’s the concluding thought: “Here, Jaren gets a Deep Cross concept vs. cover 3. He immediately eliminates the post due to the single high deep safety and climbs the pocket and hits his second progression with an impressive ball in stride. Being able to throw accurately without having his feet set makes the degree of difficulty on this throw through the roof. Easy to see why the Vikings kept him on the 53.”

Lots of potential with Hall, folks, so be encouraged with where he’s at.

And what of Mr. Mullens?

The 28-year-old QB is unlikely to have a Kurt Warner emergence but he’s a rock-solid backup. Basically, all anyone can ask of a QB2 is to be a great brain to help the starter prepare and then to give his team a shot to win when called upon. Mannion was capable of nailing the first part but not the second. Mullens doesn’t have the same issue. Scrappy and competitive, Mullens has the ability to keep the ship afloat should Cousins ever need to miss time.

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (12) drops back to throw a pass during the first quarter against the Tennessee Titans at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The journeyman carries a $1.725 million cap charge into the season.

Of course, most Vikings fans will be focused on Cousins. The ultra-tough QB1 is going to play a leading role in the drama that unfolds in 2023. Cousins’ ability to elevate even further by propelling his team to success and not just his individual performance is what everyone in Minnesota is looking to see.

The Vikings get their season going a week from today. Baker Mayfield will lead Tampa Bay into U.S. Bank Stadium with the aim of upsetting the favored Vikings.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

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