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Monday Morning Mailbag: QB Prospects, Coaches' Self-Evaluations

Do you have a comment or question? Send it to the Mailbag! Every Monday we'll post several comments and/or questions as part of the Monday Morning Mailbag. Although we can't post every comment or question, we will reply to every question submitted.

Click here to submit a comment or question to the Mailbag. Remember to include your name and town in the email. If Twitter is your jam, you can send a question to me that way as well.

Congratulations are in order for Vikings assistants Daronte Jones, Imarjaye Albury and Michael Hutchings for helping the National Team defeat the American Team 16-7 at the Reese's Senior Bowl.

Same for Danielle Hunter, C.J. Ham and Andrew DePaola for helping the NFC win the 2024 Pro Bowl Games. Bonus bank for all three and their teammates!

There's plenty to cover again this week, so let's get right to it.

A few years back, I was pulling for Dillon Mitchell from the University of Oregon to make the team as a wide receiver, but he ended up getting beaten out for the final spot by Bisi Johnson that year. Now there are a couple Ducks entering the draft that I think could help our team. Bo Nix is not talked about as much as [Michael Penix, Jr.] and [J.J.] McCarthy in the second tier of quarterbacks in the draft, but I think if he were available at a draft spot his value matched that he could be an excellent quarterback for the Vikes — very accurate and mobile. But I would also say, with the Hitman (Harrison Smith) being in the twilight of his career, that Evan Williams from the Ducks would be an amazing replacement at the safety position. I just watched Williams make a very nice interception in the end zone during the Senior Bowl game. I went to five Ducks home games this year and got to watch them closely for several games, and it would be a ton of fun for a faithful Vikings fan to have a couple of his college teams' players wear the purple. What are your thoughts on these two in specific?

— Brian M. from Florence, Oregon


For the front office staff and [O'Connell]:

BO NIX, in my opinion is the best bet staying at No. 11, or if there is a way to sneak back into the late first round or early second. I've watched every Oregon game. Bo has that quarterback leadership, decent arm, can run if he has to. When Bo lost to Washington, you could see the competitive fire he has. He has a great family, and is mature, as he is married. Caleb [Williams] is a great talent, but I see an "it's all about me player," that if he doesn't get his way, he could cause problems.

Drake [Maye], good player, I don't see the competitive fire as I do in Bo, and after a good start to their season, what happened in the second half?

Jayden [Daniels] is a good talent also, but can he continue this every year, or did he have one great year? Plus the Vikes would need to move up, and do you want to lose those draft picks if one of those top 3 do not pan out?

Penix, Jr., has a great arm. I just question how healthy he will be. Will he be similar to Teddy Bridgewater?

[J.J.] McCarthy I see as another [Ryan] Tannehill possibly.

Bo, I see similar to a Drew Brees. Yes I could be wrong, but to not send draft picks and the future away, I would like you to really do your homework and look at Bo.

Thank you and Skol Vikings!!!

— Jeff Sabacky

I don't usually open a Mailbag by combining comments, but I'm opting to do so here because of the similar wavelengths of Brian and Jeff toward Nix.

Vikings scouts and coaches were in Mobile, Alabama, last week for the Reese's Senior Bowl and were able to all have the same looks at Penix and Nix during three days of practices (as well as five other quarterbacks).

Penix did not suit up for the game, and Nix played sparingly, going 4-of-5 passing for 21 yards with a short touchdown to former Minnesota Gophers TE Brevyn Spann-Ford.

Spencer Rattler (from South Carolina) threw the game's only other touchdown, connecting with Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint (from Georgia) for a 29-yard strike to cap an impressive opening drive.

If you missed last week's reporting from Mobile, please check out this story with comments from General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Vikings Director of College Scouting Mike Sholiton.

As valuable as last week can be, it's only a small part of the process that includes campus visits for practices and games, in-person interviews, the combine and pro days. One value of last week's input is that the practices are planned but not scripted as much as the pro days will be designed to showcase a player's strength and diminish any weakness.

Nix, from Pinson, Alabama, played for nearby Auburn from 2019-21 before transferring to Oregon in 2022. He completed 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,508 yards with 45 touchdowns against three interceptions last season to win Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year.

There were some nice throws during practice, and there were some that seemed underthrown, but Sholiton explained evaluators compare and contrast what they see during those practices against everything that a player has already shown. There's also the understanding of throwing to so many new teammates on a short turnaround.

Williams repeatedly showed up in practice at safety and made the interception in the game.

Jeff lays out plenty of QB names that will be talked about in the coming months of evaluations. Since he brought up Bridgewater (nothing could have been done to prevent the knee injury), I did want to congratulate Teddy on being named as the head football coach at his alma mater last week. It's so great that young men will be able to learn so many lessons on and off the field from him.

Will the Vikings try and keep Kirk Cousins and re-sign Justin Jefferson and Danielle Hunter?

— Bryce B.


I would like to see a good "team." Essential to work together. Accuracy and speed are desired in a QB. Shifty and resilient, along with speed for backs and receivers, but none of these will work without great linemen — offensive and defensive. We need to have first- and second-string lines in good physical shape who get lots of reps practice with mixed personnel.*

*I do not believe any of this is news — just I see too many dollars go to the big names when all positions are vital and should be remunerated as such. Don't neglect the linemen. We need them.

— Sally Hagen (fan of the Vikings for 62-plus seasons)

We should have a lot more clarity regarding whether the Vikings are bringing back Cousins and Hunter on new contracts by the middle of March (the new league year and free agency begin March 13).

Jefferson is on the rookie fifth-year option the team exercised, so he's under contract through this year.

It's an interesting offseason for the Vikings, one filled with big-time decisions for the team's leaders to make as they build the roster for 2024 and beyond.

Sally's correct that, for all the flair and excitement at skills positions, linemen win a lot more than just in the "Tug-of-War" at the Pro Bowl Games.

Minnesota got some of its best line play against San Francisco in Week 7. I understand the desire to try to get as many reps for as many players as possible to build contingency plans but also value continuity.

The scarcity of certain elite talents can command significant contract amounts, but the salary cap necessitates being able to get production value over the cost of some contracts.

View photos of Vikings OLB Danielle Hunter, FB C.J. Ham, LS Andrew DePaola at the 2024 Pro Bowl Games in Orlando, Fla.

My question for you is what ever happened to tackling? It seems like tackling is a lost art and the NFL brass is only concerned with protecting the quarterback. The players get credit for a tackle even though they don't wrap up the player like they did and bring them to the ground. Today they basically launch and knock the player to the ground without wrapping their arms around the player. To me, this doesn't meet the criteria or definition of tackling. I firmly believe the receivers would not have the torn ACL or concussion type injuries if they didn't hit the players like missiles and actually tackled them. Let's get back to clean tackles or go playing flag football so players can extend and walk after their career.

— Bill Kahlert (Viking fan since 1965 from Maysville, North Carolina)

Tackling quarterbacks while adhering to rules about use of full body weight has provided a bit of a challenge from time to time, as well as some judgement calls. As for receivers, much has been efforted to discourage helmet-to-helmet hits, as well as leading with the crown of the helmet, but those plays can happen quite fast.

It seems like there should be plenty of strike zone for defensive players to cleanly hit pass catchers below the head-and-neck area and above the knee. Maybe NFL leaders revisit strike zones at their Annual League Meeting?

Loving [O'Connell]. I think we've really got a winning combination between him and [Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores].

Lots of things the players can do to improve this offseason. If they continue the work, I have no doubt we'll be in the driver's seat for the NFC North title (yes, even with Dan Campbell in our division.)

That being said — I am wondering:

  • What do our coaches do to self-evaluate?
  • In retrospect, does Coach O'Connell see any weaknesses in his coaching that he wants to address for the next season?
  • How about Coach Flores?
  • Can we look at a change in strength and conditioning to improve our resistance to injuries?

And how do you coach against turnovers!? I honestly have no idea, but if anything killed our chances in the 2023 season, that was it.

Also, lots of love to our current Ownership. Having suffered through several tough times, the Wilfs have been amazing owners. Thanks to you guys!

I am a lifetime fan who grew up with the franchise.

— Vikings fan stranded in Chicago

Coaches have no shortage of things to evaluate, and this staff seems to be very self-reflective. They can go back to any decision made (play call, personnel usage in a game, how practices were structured, how health and performance were managed) with the goal of improving aspects that didn't yield the expected results. The Vikings essentially had the same health and performance staff in O'Connell's first two seasons, but 2023 was marred much more by injuries. Some years are better or worse than others on that front.

Coaches choose things they think will work and have built their approaches over time.

I'd imagine O'Connell and Flores each evaluated games shortly after their conclusion in the season and will be doing deeper dives this offseason.

The Vikings suffered so many fumbles lost (seven of seven committed in the first three games!) but kept coaching and drilling and reinforcing. From Week 12 against Chicago through the end of the season, Minnesota committed five fumbles and lost one (caused by a sack against Green Bay), so the team did improve, but the latter-half needs to be the baseline for further improvement because the football is vital.

I've read a few newspaper stories in which reference was made to potential financial commitments impacting personnel decisions, but the Wilf family has continuously showed support for trying to build teams that consistently compete for championships and have shown other commitments in that direction time and again.

View home and away photos of the Vikings 2024 regular season opponents.

Why do GM and head coach seem to not want the Vikings to win? Maybe we need a new GM and head coach who wants to win and has a system that plays to the talents of each player. Instead of looking for a quarterback, stop looking for a quick fix. Re-sign Joshua Dobbs, and we have Jaren Hall. Develop them the way a team should, using the money we have to improve offensive and defensive lines, also other positions that need to be addressed. Instead of mortgaging the team for one person, as there is no I in team, the offensive and defensive players should get the money and the first thing to build up, Brian Flores for MN Vikings head coach.

Maybe they should look at teams Bud Grant and Dennis Green had. They knew how to coach.


— Nancy Vlaisavljevich

I appreciate Nancy's passion for wanting a winning team, but I don't agree with her characterization that Adofo-Mensah and O'Connell don't want to win. I'm not quite sure where that would come from.

Minnesota lost Jefferson in Week 5 for seven weeks but then rattled off five consecutive wins and was in contention for a playoff spot entering December. Losing Cousins in Week 8 changed the trajectory of the team, but the squad again didn't turn tail and won in Atlanta and against New Orleans.

Accuracy from a quarterback is going to be incredibly important to O'Connell's system, which everyone had been practicing for two years. Development at the position also will be important to a head coach who was in multiple offenses as an NFL player.

Grant and Green had career results that landed each in the Vikings Ring of Honor (and Grant in the Pro Football Hall of Fame). O'Connell was faster to 10 wins (12 games for O'Connell, compared to 27 for Grant and 15 for Green) and 20 wins (30 games, compared to 38 games for Grant and 32 for Green). While that's not the ultimate metric for how O'Connell should be critiqued, I think it does show he knows how to coach.

I believe Cousins is not the QB for the future of the Vikings. The Vikings need to move on and go get a real QB for the future. Sure seems other teams are successful in finding a QB; why not the Vikings?

Thank you for your time.

— Robert Moorhouse

Seven of the final eight teams in the playoffs had quarterbacks who were first-round picks, and each of those team's quarterbacks started 15 or more regular-season games in 2023.

I do believe the Vikings would have made the playoffs with Cousins, especially with how he was playing at the time of his injury.

The Vikings must now decide if they want to run it back with Cousins and can resume the trajectory the team appeared to be on in Weeks 7-8 or choose an alternate path.

Let's face it. We want a championship. Draft up, even to number one, trade with Chicago, strike a deal. The Viking fans are tired of getting a bunch of guys that will be in development and be good someday. We need more superstars. Get [Danielle Hunter] more help on defense, let's see what [DeWayne] McBride can do at RB. Get more difference makers that can help us now. We want a championship. I am 50 and had to watch Detroit in the championship game? Come on guys, ask your fans for help if you need to. We know what we need stars and wins. Let's do it!!!!!

— Gary R.

I know that there was plenty of consternation from people when Adofo-Mensah traded with the Lions and Packers in his first draft, and it showed a little different line of thinking to make two trades within the division. It's possible if both teams agree, but I'd be surprised if the Bears dealt the top pick within the division (if the Vikings wanted to get to the No. 1 spot).

McBride, a seventh-round pick a year ago, fell into the development level.

Minnesota is scheduled to pick higher in the first round and subsequent rounds this year than last year. There can be somewhat of a cascading effect for that.

The Lions earned the right to the NFC Championship Game (and had several things go their way during the 2023 season). Going 17-46-2 from 2018-21 gave Detroit a steady run of picking near the top of the draft, and the Lions hit on several of their selections.

Hi guys,

I hope you are well.

Not sure how many letters or comments you get from Vikings fans over here in the UK.

I love the Vikings and I am thrilled they'll be returning to our rainy isle next season.

With all the inevitable offseason speculation, the one thing that has stood out is the number of holes we have to fill. I personally believe they are too vast to cover in one draft or in FA. Really, we are looking at DT, edge, corner, and a guard (I think we've earned a guard!). Why not just sit there and think you know what, this offense is good. For me, we have the best reviving corps in the league, Christian Darrisaw and Brian O'Neil are top players at tackle, and we know Kirk can run this offense. The 49ers will tell us that.

Why not just go for it and make this one of the top three offenses in the league next year. Add pieces to the defense. I believe Mr. Flores can elevate any defense. I am well up for the Vikes trying to win every game 45-31 next season. We can fix the defense in 2025.

— Nicky Harrison, United Kingdom

Thanks for sending your thoughts. We seem to receive more comments from the United Kingdom every year, which is fantastic to welcome more and more into following the Vikings and NFL football.

It's one thing to be equipped for high-scoring affairs, but Minnesota only scored 31 points one time in 2023, despite having some explosive weapons. Turnovers played a massive role in keeping points off the board.

There are numerous holes for the Vikings to fill, so it should be fun to keep an eye on mock drafts and scenarios between now and then.

We look forward to finding out who we'll play at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and in which week as soon as possible.

Last week's Mailbag was a lot to take in, so I'm going to offer some of my comments and thoughts.

  1. To the suggestion that Cousins and [Justin Jefferson] take a discount in contract negotiations. Kirk, yes if he's comfortable doing that. J.J., yes if you want to get fired quickly. You never ever ask a player finishing up his rookie deal as one of the best players in the game to take a hometown discount. J.J. earned the right to be paid handsomely. He's done everything right and he's a leader.
  1. To the suggestion that the team look at its scouting dept. There is some merit in that, but all teams hit and miss with players. With QBs, it's a little trickier. For example, someone commented about Brock Purdy being the last pick of the draft. I remember reading somewhere that the Vikings had him as a free agent target, but San Fran got to him first. Rick Spielman had a philosophy about seventh-round picks that I never thought of before but made sense. Accumulate as many seventh-round picks as you can to draft the players you want because there is no guarantee in free agency, and you won't be fighting with other teams for players that you really like.
  1. My comment on the team in general is this. If the Vikings draft a QB with their first pick, it has to be because they believe he is NFL ready and are going to play him ASAP. If not, re-sign Kirk for a few more years and start grooming his replacement.
  2. This one hurt because I like J.J., but having a stud receiver doesn't always equate to winning. With the salary cap, you can't always pay two or three players most of the cap and look for other players in the 5-and-Dime store and expect to win year in and year out. J.J. deserves his money no doubt, so if it's between Kirk and J.J., I chose J.J. and go sign a second-tier QB like Russell Wilson for less.
  3. Lastly the Vikings should go after Bill Belichick to be a consultant to [O'Connell]. Bud Grant is gone (still hard to believe), and I think Bill would be a good sounding board with plenty of experience. Because I think [O'Connell] still gets flustered in games where clock management suffers. You need to be like Bud and Bill, no matter what's happening in the game, you keep the same poker face.

Looking forward to a great draft.

— Al Lindberg in Denmark, Wisconsin

Al makes a good point about trying to accumulate more late picks to avoid a bidding battle with other suitors, but then there's the reality that not all seventh-round picks will make the team or practice squad, so is there too much of a cost in trading back to acquire more picks and missing a player earlier?

Point 4 could probably be explored more in coming weeks, tracking top receiver salaries vs. team success.

The connections between Belichick, O'Connell and Flores prompted a few people to send emails pondering the aspect of Belichick joining the Vikings as a consultant/advisor.

Why don't we go back to the Bud Grant era and give the football back to the ref and stop all this nonsense first-down pointing like you've just made some major accomplishment. In the end zone, stop with these practiced antics, give the ball back to the ref and get right back to work. Start having some class on the field, set yourselves apart from the rest of the teams. Maybe you'll have a little more success getting the football down the field, rather than worrying about your silly celebrations. Save those for the Super Bowl. I've been waiting 55 years. I don't have too much more time to wait for a Super Bowl win.


— Julie Erickson (longtime and faithful Vikings fan)

Football is supposed to be fun but also requires tremendous focus, so I can see Julie's frustration, especially with most first-down pointing (there are exceptions like Jefferson at Buffalo deserved a point on first down).

But it would be disingenuous of me to pretend that I have not enjoyed some of the touchdown celebrations the Vikings have done over the years — the Thanksgiving dinner table scene at Detroit in 2017 is probably still my favorite. Case Keenum gnawed on a turkey leg!

I think the takeaway celebrations by defense might have gotten a bit out of hand, but I don't see that ketchup going back in the bottle.