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Xs & Os: Analysts Describe How Rookie QB Kellen Mond Could Eventually Help Vikings

EAGAN, Minn. — Kellen Mond was a bit of a historic pick — or at least an outlier of a selection — for the Vikings in 2021.

Minnesota took the Texas A&M quarterback in the third round (No. 66 overall), marking the highest use of a selection on a QB since 2014 when Minnesota traded back into the first round to draft Teddy Bridgewater.

And, Mond is just the second quarterback ever drafted in a third round by the Vikings, joining Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton (1961).

While Mond wasn't one of the five quarterbacks selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft (he was the seventh overall signal caller taken), plenty of experts and analysts like his upside.

Jordan Reid, a former QB and coach at North Carolina Central University who is now a Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network and a co-founder of ClimbingThePocket.com, offered up his assessment on Mond.

"I think he has the potential to be a starter down the road one day," Reid said. "But he needs to clean up that consistency aspect in all areas of his game. That's what was a little bit of a roller coaster in his final season at Texas A&M.

"When he is hot, he was very hot. The game against Florida, he was at his best. Alabama was another game where he played at his best. If he can continue to be the type of quarterback he was in those games, I think he could end up being a starter one day," Reid added. "But then in the LSU game, he looks like a completely different player. Just sharpening up his consistency and becoming a more even-keeled type of quarterback will help him in the long run."

Mond has the potential to make an impact in Minnesota at some point.

But before we get there, let's take a deep dive into where Mond has been, and what his rookie season could look like in Purple.

View photos of the newest Vikings from a rookies photoshoot.

Player Profile: Kellen Mond, Texas A&M, senior

Mond is listed at 6-foot-3 and 211 pounds, meaning he has plenty of size for the position.

He also compiled a sterling resumé with the Aggies and has boatloads of experience from his time in college.

Mond is Texas A&M's all-time leader in passing yards (9,661), touchdowns (71), completions (801) and attempts (1,358). He also started 44 games over four seasons in college.

Reid noted that he saw marked improvement from Mond over his college career, especially in his final three seasons under Texas A&M Head Coach Jimbo Fisher.

"I thought Jimbo did a really good job of really developing him and really unlocking some things that needed to be unlocked," Reid said. "You saw his numbers increase across the board every year that he was under Jimbo's tutelage in his final three seasons.

"I like a lot of the thing Mond brings to the table, but the unique thing about Kellen is that even though he was a four-year starter at Texas A&M, he's still only 21 years old," Reid added. "That's something you rarely see."

Reid said Mond, who will turn 22 next month, has a bevy of likable traits at the quarterback spot, including his decision-making process, arm strength and timing.

"Just quicker decisions, that's something you notice about him. His arm strength improved … the ball jumped out of his hand very violently his senior year," Reid said. "And his accuracy got better … you could tell he really knew where to go with the ball and was a much more confident thrower."

But the one attribute that could benefit Mond the most — and is in line where some believe the NFL is trending — is his mobility and ability to move around.

Mond ran for 22 scores in college. He also averaged around 400 rushing yards per season.

"It helps a lot when you're trying to adjust to the speed of the game," Reid said. "From a mental standpoint, you're not always going to be there, especially as a young player. So having that extra lifeline is where you can bail yourself out and use it as a crutch."

2021 Outlook: Yet for all of Reid's praise for Mond, the analyst was direct in saying that it's likely best for Mond if the rookie quarterback sits behind Vikings starting quarterback Kirk Cousins for at least a season, if not more.

Reid noted that while Cousins and Mond have different skillsets, both entered the league as mid-round picks. (Cousins was a fourth-rounder and No. 102 overall in 2012).

With that in mind, Reid said he expects Mond to be a sponge and to try and soak up anything Cousins has to offer — whether that's help digesting the playbook or tips on how to read NFL defenses — especially given his recent run of strong play with the Vikings.

"You get to understand and learn the game from a bird's eye view," Reid said. "Even though experience is the best teacher, sometimes sitting back and learning from somebody that has a lot of experience and success — like Kirk has — is a good thing."

Reid said there is the possibility of Mond seeing the field in fourth-quarter situations in lopsided games, but he also noted Cousins' durability, too. Cousins has played nearly 100 percent of Minnesota's offensive snaps over the past three seasons, starting 47 games and missing just one start via Zimmer's decision when the Vikings already had a playoff berth locked up.

View photos of Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond who was selected in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

With that in mind for Mond, Reid opined that the trio of preseason games will be absolutely crucial for Mond to work through some early growing pains as a rookie.

"At quarterback, experience is always the biggest teacher," Reid said. "You can simulate game reps as much as you can, but the only way you can really learn and adjust to the speed of the game is to actually be in it.

"Getting those three preseason games in, I think it's going to help him tremendously," Reid added.

It's a good bet that Mond will get those valuable reps in August during preseason games.

But after that? There's a good chance that Mond doesn't see the field in live game action again until the 2022 preseason.

Coachspeak: "I think the biggest thing for him right now is learning the process of the plays, getting in the huddle and out of the huddle, calling the different plays and different checks that we have. I want him to be himself. We brought him in here as a talented, athletic quarterback, and I just want him to be himself. But the things he can learn from Kirk are the way that he handles the games, the way that he goes about his business in the classroom and on the field, how to work. A lot of these guys when they come in, they don't know how to be professional. Part of that is in the locker room and in the weight room. All those types of things."

— Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer

Film Breakdown: Former Vikings player and coach Pete Bercich, now a Vikings Radio Network analyst, looked at some of Mond's tape from Texas A&M.

Bercich praised Mond's accuracy between the hashmarks, but also his ability to get the ball deep. He highlighted one of Mond's throws around the 1:50 mark of the video against Alabama.

"This play stands out … he's throwing this back-shoulder fade to this wide receiver," Bercich said. "The play is incomplete … but if you freeze it, and if that's Justin Jefferson [down the field] … it's caught for a touchdown. If that's Adam Thielen … it's caught for a touchdown."

Bercich later noted Mond's ability to deliver under pressure, as he broke down a completed pass against the Crimson Tide blitz.

"He's tall — 6-foot-3 — so he can see across the field and delivers that [pass] right where the tight end needs to be," Bercich added. "This is a great response to a blitz. I really like what I see out of that."

Bercich did note that Mond might need to speed up his decision-making at times but added that he has already shown the ability to make throws on pro-style routes.

Bercich added that Mond's mobility is a benefit to his game. This trait was highlighted at the 4:25 mark of Bercich's film breakdown.

"I don't think he's a scrambler, but he's fast enough and athletic enough to extend plays and make great throws," Bercich said. "You see it [here] … there's a free rusher … but he scrambles and keeps his hands up and is able to throw a great ball on the run.

"His athleticism and his size bode well for him sitting in the pocket and also being able to scramble and extend plays," Bercich added.

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