Vikings have the 11th and 23rd picks in the NFL draft and a need for a QB. Can they get their guy?

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The NFL draft is not so much a marathon weekend as it is a season of speculation and subterfuge, a made-for-TV mystery unfolding team by team across the league.

Minnesota's motive has been clear, actually, for two years. The Vikings are as poised as ever to take a quarterback in the first round.

From the day Kevin O'Connell was hired as head coach, following the arrival of general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah in the momentous leadership change they made in 2022, the Vikings have been pointed in this direction for this draft.

When they last year declined to give quarterback Kirk Cousins an extension beyond the 2023 season, the path straightened further. Then after Cousins departed as a free agent this spring for Atlanta, the Vikings acquired an additional first-round pick in a trade with Houston to take the 11th and 23rd overall selections into the draft for potential fuel to move up. They even hired Josh McCown, the 18-year NFL veteran, as their new quarterbacks coach.

O'Connell has led an intensive process since the season ended of scouring through a promising crop of prospects, including Caleb Williams (USC), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Drake Maye (North Carolina) and J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) with Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) and Bo Nix (Oregon) also in the mix.

“When you select a quarterback,” Adofo-Mensah said, “It's a marriage. It's that serious, and that level of commitment and work should go into it.”

Williams will almost certainly be taken by Chicago with the first pick. Washington (No. 2) and New England (No. 3) each have glaring needs for a quarterback. At least two other clubs ahead of Minnesota (No. 11) do, too.

“Just because something’s risky doesn’t mean you have to stay away from it,” Adofo-Mensah said. “It’s something that is hard to grasp, but if you grasp it, you know what the rewards are, right?”

With Penix and Nix widely considered to be in a second tier, frequently projected as late first round or early second-round options, the Vikings will likely face an intense series of decisions next Thursday about whether to accept the steep cost of a top-four selection for a quarterback they're wild about or stay put and find an elite player to upgrade another position.

“At the end of the day, you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘Am I going to regret not doing this trade? If that player gets picked in this spot, whatever this spot is, and I was willing to give up this, can I sleep at night?’” Adofo-Mensah said. “That’s how we’ve got to look at the board in every place.”


The highest the Vikings have ever drafted a quarterback was Daunte Culpepper at No. 11 in 1999. They've used a first-round pick on a quarterback only four times in the franchise's 63-year history, with Teddy Bridgewater (No. 32) in 2014, Christian Ponder (No. 12) in 2011 and Tommy Kramer (No. 27) in 1977 the others. Pro Football Hall of Fame member Fran Tarkenton was a third-rounder in 1961, though he was the 29th overall pick at that pre-merger time when the NFL had only 14 teams.


While the other positions may be a distant second, third and fourth to quarterback, the Vikings have glaring holes at cornerback, guard and defensive tackle.

Signing Shaquill Griffin as a free agent to give defensive coordinator Brian Flores another veteran cornerback alongside Byron Murphy Jr. helped their depth, but Akayleb Evans, Mekhi Blackmon and Andrew Booth Jr. remain largely unproven. Ed Ingram has been the starter at right guard since he was drafted in the second round in 2022, but he's hardly entrenched. Dalton Risner left as a free agent, leaving Blake Brandel as the left guard for now.


Boasting the duo of Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, first-round picks in 2020 and 2023, the Vikings will likely pass on a deep class of wide receivers other than a late-round flier for depth. The same goes for safeties and tight ends.


The Vikings don't currently own any second-day selections, minimizing their opportunity to add starting-caliber players and increasing the pressure to hit a home run in the first round.

Their second-round pick this year — and in 2025 — went to the Texans for the extra first-rounder. Their third-round choice belongs to Detroit for the T.J. Hockenson trade last year. The Vikings got an additional fourth-rounder this year from the Lions in that deal.

The Vikings have seven picks on the final day, with two in each round except the sixth.



Dave Campbell, The Associated Press