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Kellen Mond 'Just Kept Getting Better & Better,' Shows High Ceiling

EAGAN, Minn. — Kellen Mond first started tossing a football with his dad at age 2.

Now, he'll have a shot to make a name for himself in the NFL.

The Vikings tabbed Mond out of Texas A&M with the 66th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, and he spoke with Twin Cities media members shortly thereafter.

"My dad always tells stories about me throwing the ball at the age of 2, and then my mom, I always told her that I wanted to play in the NFL, [from a really] young age," Mond said. "So I feel like I've been preparing for this for the longest time. I'm truly excited, and just having the experience I do in the SEC, playing against the best competition, I think that it's going to make a lot easier [learning] curve for me."

Mond was a four-year starter for the Aggies. He played 10 games during the 2020 season and finished the campaign 188-of-297 passing (63.3 percent) for 2,282 yards, 19 touchdowns and just three interceptions for a 146.9 NCAA passer rating. He added 74 rushes for 294 yards and four touchdowns.

Mond capped his collegiate career with a 41-27 Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina in January.

"To finish off a season at 9-1 this past year was just a true testament to my character, my leadership, and my hard work," he added. "I felt like [the bowl game] was one of my best feelings in college. I look forward to making more memories in Minnesota."

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman said he and his scouting staff had done ample homework on Mond throughout the pre-draft process, and he noted that quarterbacks coach Andrew Janocko worked Mond out in-person.

The young QB also spent lots of time videoconferencing with various coaches and scouts who saw Mond as a good fit for Minnesota.

"Through the interview process, he did talk about how [Aggies Head Coach Jimbo] Fisher started to let him have a little more freedom at the line of scrimmage and how that helped him grow as a quarterback. And then he was down at the Senior Bowl and played well … and had a good week of practice, and then when Coach Janocko went down there and worked him out, he had a really good work out.

"You saw that, just like any other position, with a young guy you try to track that as they come out whether they're spiraling up or spiraling down," Spielman continued. "And we felt he was on the right trajectory and has a lot of upside to develop."

Mond was named MVP of the 2021 Reese's Senior Bowl.

Vikings Director of College Scouting Jamaal Stephenson also told media members Friday evening that Mond had been on the team's radar "for a long time" and that his experience stands out in this year's draft class.

"[He] was the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school in 2017, and he's a guy who, as we watched throughout his career, just got better and better each year," Stephenson said. "When you look at his completion percentage, how it increased every year, and this year he was up around 62 or 63 completion percentage. He took care of the ball. He didn't take sacks like he had done in the past, so we just saw steady growth out of Kellen, and we felt like he's someone who's just going to continue to grow as he gets into our system."

NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah also emphasized Mond's growth during Friday's NFL Network broadcast, and he said arm strength "is not an issue at all" for the 6-foot-3, 211-pound passer.

"You see him push the ball vertically down the field," Jeremiah said. "He's got this quick twitch to him, where, when you see it, you don't see it all of the time, but there are times when he doesn't have a lot of space to operate, and he can get that ball out.

"He's a great athlete. He wants to stay inside the pocket and shows you glimpses of that athleticism to make plays like that," Jeremiah added. "I would like to see him incorporate a little more of that. I think he's got it in his game, but I like the fact he just gets better every time you see him."

Charles Davis concurred.

"He gets better, he has the mind for it. Underrated athlete," said Davis, who pointed out that Mond played in Kevin Sumlin's offense before Jimbo Fisher took the helm at Texas A&M in 2018.

While Mond's variety of experience wasn't the main reason Minnesota drafted him, it also didn't hurt to see tape of him different offenses.

"When a guy can go through that many systems and still be the successful quarterback that he was – I mean, this guy won a lot of games as a starter – that tells us that he must be a pretty smart guy, and he's able to adjust to different systems and still be successful," Stephenson said.

Mond's athleticism has been highlighted under Fisher's system, as well.

"As I started to get more comfortable in his offense, I started to learn to throw more from the pocket –whether that's pushing the ball downfield or just getting the ball out of my hands quick. I feel like that's a huge growth in my game," said Mond, who also ran track and competed in the 400-meter run. "I always knew what type of athleticism I had, so being able to incorporate that, whether that's taking off and running or even on nakeds and bootlegs, I think that's going to be huge for me in the NFL."

During the ABC broadcast, ESPN analyst Todd McShay pointed out early inconsistencies for Mond but also reiterated that he "got better and better" over his time with the Aggies.

"I thought Jimbo Fisher did a really good job of developing him. His decision-making, his accuracy, I thought really improved this past year," McShay said. "And here's a look at the career, right? Texas A&M, think about all the pressure playing SEC defenses every single week. He's a four-year starter, and he has the all-time record for the program in career passing touchdowns and almost 10,000 passing yards for that school.

"This guy's a really good player, and I'm excited to see how he develops," McShay added. "He's in a good situation to take the time to develop."

The situation referenced by McShay is, of course, that Mond is being drafted by a team with an established starting quarterback.

Kirk Cousins signed a three-year deal with Minnesota as a free agent in 2018, and in March 2020, he signed a two-year extension. Last season, Cousins started all 16 games and threw for 4,265 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Mond understands and embraces the Vikings current quarterback scenario, and he's looking forward to learning whatever he can from whomever he can.

"Obviously, I've never played in the NFL so I think going in and being able to grab some information from a guy who has played with different teams and has played against [some of the league's best defenders], I think that's going to be huge for me," Mond said. "That's going to be definitely one of the biggest things I look for, too: one, learning the new playbook, but also just being able to learn from Kirk Cousins. It's going to be amazing.

"I think one of the biggest things I learned, whether you're a starter or a backup or anybody, is to treat everything like a national championship or a Super Bowl rep," he later added. "So that's the type of mindset that I have, whether it's workouts or going into practice. Just wanting to do everything to the best of my ability and be prefect, and pretty much wanting to grasp all types of information, whether it's from Kirk, coaches or even veteran receivers who have seen so many different things in the league."

Ironically, Minnesota's selection of Mond was made by Vikings Legend and Pro Football Hall of Famer John Randle, who grew up in Hearne, Texas, and played collegiately at Texas A&M-Kingsville.

"As he was walking to the stage, people in my house were calling him out, yelling, 'Hearne, Texas!' " Mond said with a smile. "Obviously being a super small town, a lot of people know a lot about him … To be able to hear him call my name was even more special."

Mond is the third-highest drafted QB in Texas A&M history, behind only first-rounders Ryan Tannehill (No. 8 in 2012) and Johnny Manziel (No. 22 in 2014).

He is the fifth Aggies player drafted in Vikings history and the first quarterback.