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NFL Experts Evaluate Vikings QB Situation

Who will be in the Vikings quarterbacks room for the 2024 season?

We now know who will coach the group, as Minnesota recently hired former NFL QB Josh McCown to hold that role, but any number of scenarios could shape the players at the position.

Kirk Cousins is due to become a free agent, but he and Vikings coaches have expressed equal interest in Cousins remaining in Minnesota – if the two parties can strike a deal. If that doesn't happen, do the Vikings look toward the draft for a rookie passer? If Minnesota does bring back Cousins, does that eliminate the possibility of also drafting a QB?

Vikings Entertainment Network's Tatum Everett and Gabe Henderson recently attended the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, where they asked pundits from around the league their takes on the Vikings quarterback situation. Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall are under contract for the 2024 season.

Interestingly, several of them generally aligned on one mindset – returning Cousins and drafting a quarterback are not mutually exclusive.

"I'm fascinated to see what happens with Kirk," NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah told Everett. "Because of the depth of the quarterback class we have here, the opportunity of where they're picking and [Cousins] coming off an Achilles [injury], that's why I feel like [it's an interesting situation].

"Even if Kirk were to come back and you're gonna roll with him, I feel like they're gonna get another young one in the pipeline," Jeremiah added.

ESPN analyst Jordan Reid expressed similar sentiments, saying one option for Minnesota is to draft a quarterback that will initially back up Cousins.

"I think that's where you plug your young quarterback in – whether you take one at No. 11 or somewhere in the mid-rounds," Reid said. "So you put that young quarterback behind Kirk Cousins, assuming they bring him back."

NBC Sports' Chris Simms, a former NFL QB himself, also opined that Minnesota "needs to invest a little bit" into that position this offseason – though he is in favor as re-signing Cousins as this season's starter.

"Is Kirk a superstar? Is he [Patrick] Mahomes, Josh Allen, [Joe] Burrow? No. OK, but there's only a few of those guys in football. You've got a good one there. Top-10ish, top 12-ish, certainly," Simms said. "And a guy that, I will sit here once again and tell you, 'He can bring you to the promised land.' He can.

"Now, you've gotta have the talent around him a little bit, and that's like most guys. And I feel like the Vikings are close," Simms continued. "In a lot of ways, I feel like the Vikings were better this past year than when they went 13-4 [in 2022]. That's why it was unfortunate for Kirk to get hurt."

Should the Vikings target a quarterback in the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft, which names should they have on their radar?

If the Vikings stay pat at No. 11, Eric Eager, VP of Sumer Sports, pointed to Washington quarterback Michael Penix, Jr., could be a good fit … and not just because he's used to wearing purple.

Penix has been highly touted during his collegiate career, and Eager noted the quarterback's ability to evade sacks.

"During his career – both at Indiana but also in Washington – less than 10 percent of the time he was pressured, he took a sack. And that translates from college to pro," Eager said. "Patrick Mahomes, who is obviously the [three-time] Super Bowl MVP … his college-to-pro metric there is one-tenth of a percent different from college to pro. So it is one of those things where very few things from college to pro map perfectly, but that is one that does a really good job."

Jeremiah, meanwhile, is intrigued by the potential of Michigan's J.J. McCarthy and Oregon's Bo Nix.

Nix started his collegiate experience at Auburn but later transferred to Oregon, where he played two seasons. In 2023, he set the NCAA single-season record for completion percentage at 77.45. Nix also broke Ducks single-season records for completions (364), passing yards (4,508) and passing touchdowns (45). He became the fourth Heisman Trophy finalist in Oregon history, finishing third in voting.

"One day I wake up and prefer McCarthy, and the next day I wake up and prefer Nix," laughed Jeremiah. "But they're similar in the sense that they're really good athletes, they're winners, they're tough, they're smart. Just kind of steady players.

"I think either one of those guys, you could make a case," Jeremiah added. "You're not gonna trade up for either of those guys, but if they're there at 11, you could talk yourself into that."

And if the Vikings draft a different position at 11 but still have interest in a quarterback on Day 2?

Reid spotlighted South Carolina's Spencer Rattler or Tulane's Michael Pratt as mid-round options.

"[Rattler has] done a really good job over the past two seasons, really, reinventing himself. We're talking about a player that was the top-ranked player in the country coming into Oklahoma, and then he transfers to South Carolina – and he's done a really good job," Reid said. "[Pratt] had a lot of excitement and buzz coming into the year. He was a little banged up throughout the season, but you see a lot of those traits with him."

As free agency quickly approaches, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler believes Minnesota's quarterback situation is "the most fascinating one" across all 32 teams.

"I know the Bears have the No. 1 pick and can do a lot at quarterback, but the Vikings, they're at sort of an inflection point because they have to decide, once again, 'Are we willing to commit strong guarantees, if not full guarantees, on Kirk Cousins?' … They have to make a decision. … If a player like Cousins, of his caliber, is on the open market, then the Vikings could be taking a swing at quarterback in the draft. Which, I think they've always been curious about in this new regime, but they've had a good quarterback so they haven't had to. I'm really fascinated by it because of the impact one decision can have on three other spots."

Fowler echoed his peers that the Vikings have "a lot of different routes" they can take.

"And they could all be successful if you do them correctly. I think the way the Vikings are built, they can have success [with] a lot of different quarterbacks. I mean, it's a place where quarterbacks would want to go," Fowler said. "I do think they've been digging into the draft the past few years. I think they're intrigued by taking a big swing if they can, if it's the right one. And we'll see how far that goes. The other available free agents aren't the caliber of Kirk Cousins. So how do you justify going after somebody else when you have the best available free agent in house? So to me, it seems either Cousins or draft."