EAGAN, Minn. — The Vikings added a quarterback on Saturday by selecting BYU's Jaren Hall with the 164th overall pick.
He explained his excitement to join the Vikings shortly after his selection by describing the connection he had with the team during Minnesota's formal interview with him at the 2023 NFL Scouting Combine.
"I walked away from that interview blown away with the organization, the coaching staff, and it was everything I felt in that room. All the people present," Hall told Twin Cities media members via videoconference Saturday. "It's one of my favorite organizations, and I've just always had a great feeling about them.
"We kept in talks over the phone for the next few weeks," he added. "Didn't have any visits or workouts, just kind of coaches checking in now and then. But I'm grateful that that's where I landed today. That's always been a team I've felt great about."
Hall started 24 of 31 games for the Cougars, completing 468 of 718 passes (65.2 percent) and 52 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. He rushed 181 times for 798 yards and nine touchdowns.
In 2022, Hall posted career highs for completions (248), attempts (376), passing yards (3,171), passing touchdowns (31), rushes (86) and rushing yards (348).
Hall completed a Latter-day Saints mission in California from 2016-17 before joining BYU in 2018. He made his first two starts in 2019 but dealt with concussions. Hall also suffered a hip injury that cost him all of 2020.
He started 10 games in 2021 and 12 more in 2022 and boosted his production numbers year over year. He went from a completion percentage of 63.9 to 66.0, increased his passing yards from 2,583 to 3,171 and his touchdowns from 20 to 31.
Vikings Director of College Scouting Mike Sholiton and Vikings assistant quarterbacks coach Grant Udinski observed Hall closely during BYU's Pro Day.
"I think one of the things that just drips off is what type of teammate he was when you watch him interact as his teammates are going through the bench press and he's front and center," Sholiton said. "When he makes a good throw, how they rally around him. There's just a certain 'it factor' that you're always looking for in a quarterback, and I think it's kind of hard to quantify, so I was glad that [media members] had that first interaction with him."
View photos of BYU QB Jaren Hall who was selected No. 164 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Listed at 6-feet and 207 pounds, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein compared Hall to Gardner Minshew and said Hall's "field command gives him a shot to make it" in the NFL.
"He throws with excellent ball placement to targets on the move and delivers a feathery soft deep ball with accuracy. His lack of drive velocity creates smaller margins for error and his timing needs to be impeccable to beat NFL man coverage," Zierlein wrote. "Hall operates with ideal poise from the pocket. He does an adequate job of reading coverages and getting rid of the ball without taking sacks. The size and arm strength will concern some teams, but offenses operating out of heavy play-action with levels-based route concepts could target him as a solid future backup."
Hall's father Kalin was a running back at BYU from 1992-93, and his mother Hollie Hamilton was a gymnast who competed for the Cougars in 1993. His brother KJ played running back at the school from 2015-17. His brother Kyson was a freshman receiver at BYU last fall but did not play in a game.
Jaren also played baseball at BYU from 2019-20, making eight starts in the outfield in 2019 and three during the shortened 2020 season.
As expected, his schedule was quite demanding.
"I didn't feel like I was able to fully give myself to either one, and I felt like I had a lot of potential whichever way I went with that. I think in the end, football just kind of won over my heart," Hall said. "Other factors kind of forced me to choose between the two, but more so than anything, I love the opportunity to play football and just felt like I hadn't given it everything yet. It would have been a regret of mine had I not."
Hall said he "paid the price" for balancing both, as he didn't immediately win the starting QB job.
"Once I did, I could tell that choice really helped me to elevate my game," he said. "And I still think two years of just playing football, I've got a lot I can learn and there's a lot of potential in my career."
There are pros and cons to being a dual-sport collegiate athlete, but Hall is grateful for the skill sets in baseball that translate to football. He mentioned that activation of one's core and hips, as well as reaction time, are skills needed on the diamond and gridiron alike.
"I think just the quick twitch and the reaction time is key," he said.
View photos from inside the Thomson Reuters Vikings Draft Room during the 2023 NFL Draft.
Sholiton described a bit of transference from the diamond to the gridiron.
"Playing centerfield, the instincts of seeing the whole field, knowing what might happen and knowing what to do with the ball before you have it in your hands," Sholiton said. "All of those things translate, but what I took from his baseball career, personally, was the knowledge that a lot of guys that played two sports will put one sport against the other.
"He always found a way, after finishing a baseball workout, to come in and lift with the guys and be a part of the football team even during the offseason," Sholiton said. "Even when he wasn't the starter, it was important for him to be around the football team so that by the time it was his team, he had that rapport with his teammates, and he was able to take over that QB1 role and kind of win the locker room over."
Editor's Note: Shout out to Monday Morning Mailbag emailer Tyler who asked for the April 24 Mailbag if the Vikings would trade up to draft Anthony Richardson or wait to draft Hall.
The Vikings traded up in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft on Saturday to select LSU defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy at No. 141 overall.
"I would like to thank God for giving me the ability to have the talent that I have and the passion and love for the game that I do," Roy said during his video interview with Twin Cities media members. "I would like to thank General Manger Kwesi-Adofo Mensah, Coach Kevin O'Connell and Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores for calling me on this day, making my day brighter and giving me the opportunity to join the new family and really put my dreams and aspirations for the game outside and play my hardest.
Minnesota dealt the 158th and 211th overall selections to Indianapolis.
Roy started 13 of 35 games played for the Tigers, totaling 97 tackles (46 solo), 4.0 sacks, 13.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
The Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native played for his hometown team from 2020-22, teaming with Vikings fourth-round pick Jay Ward.
"It was crazy because I had just gone to the bathroom and asked if anyone from LSU had been drafted yet. They said Jay Ward just went to the Vikings," Roy explained. "It was awesome."
Roy also is quite familiar with Vikings guard Ed Ingram, who was selected last year in the second round. They faced each other in practices.
"Freshman year came in, it was a big hit just going against Ed Ingram knowing he was one of the top guards in the SEC," Roy said. "He was a hell of a player, excuse me. Just going against him getting my technique better and better every practice. Just lining up for 1-on-1s and 9-on-7s made me better for sure."
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 305 pounds, Roy said he's comfortable playing multiple spots on the interior of the defensive line, from 0 to 4i, potentially delivering a layer of versatility that the Vikings sought in their first draft with Flores, who began his career in the Patriots personnel department before becoming a coach.
View photos of LSU NT Jaquelin Roy who was selected No. 141 overall in the 2023 NFL Draft.
"That has been one of the main messages that 'B-Flo' has put on us," Vikings Assistant Director of Player Personnel Chisom Opara said. "He is built on being multiple and the idea of having an aggressive scheme, the idea of having a scheme that can dictate to the offense.
"Part of that is having players that can play multiple roles, so you don't develop tendencies, so you don't have certain guys that specialize at doing certain things," Opara added. "The more versatile players you can add, the more you can be the one who is calling the shots a little bit and keeping the offense guessing as the game goes on."
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein compared Roy to former Vikings nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson, who signed a big deal with Cleveland during free agency after two seasons with Minnesota.
"The more you watch, the more you like the way Roy plays the game," Zierlein wrote. "He's a little tight in his lower body, which prevents consistent gap leverage as a run defender, but he has outstanding upper body power and plays with unbridled energy. Roy has one-gapping snap quickness and two-gapping potential if he can become more consistent with taking on blocks.
"Despite limited starting experience at LSU, he already displays signs of a rush plan and the athletic talent to execute it," Zierlein added. "Roy is an ascending talent with the potential to become a quality starter."
Adofo-Mensah explained how Roy could potentially work in Minnesota's rotation.
"He's got the ability to be stout at the point of attack, play nose tackle, but he's also got a little wiggle on his body," Adofo-Mensah said. "He can rush the passer, and obviously you've seen in free agency these past couple of years the contracts that some of those guys in there [have signed], it's really hard to chip on the edges, slide one way. Somebody is going to get a 1-on-1, and it's typically that guy, and to have somebody with some pass rush value in that spot is really helpful.
"We've got some guys already on this roster who can do that as well, but adding another body to that presence is something we wanted to do, and we're excited to have him," Adofo-Mensah added.