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Good to Great: Should the Vikings Draft a Quarterback?

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Tanishka Mhaskar
February 5th
Photo: Washington Post

The scene was 2017 in the Kansas City Chiefs headquarters where team chairman Clark Hunt, head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey nervously anticipated the start of the NFL draft. 

The Chiefs held the 27th overall pick, coming off of a season with a decent playoff run. Some in the organization believed that their current quarterback Alex Smith had taken the team as far as he could; Smith’s career with the Chiefs consisted of many divisional round playoff losses. 

During the Combine Dorsey had spoken to multiple teams about setting up a trade because they knew many teams were interested in the young quarterback Patrick Mahomes. A few days before the draft, talks rose between Dorsey and Bills GM Doug Whaley. 

On draft day, the Chiefs made the move and traded two firsts and a third for the Bills 10th overall pick, and their new star studded quarterback who got them over the hump for the first time in 50 years, bringing the Lombardi home to Kansas City.

Could the Vikings be in a similar situation this year? QB Kirk Cousins is in a contract year and Minnesota certainly hasn’t done what they signed Cousins to do: win the Super Bowl. After two years and one playoff win, Cousins has shown that he's a great quarterback but the same question lingers in the minds of Vikings fans as did only three years ago in the mind of Chiefs fans: can he get over the hump?

Let’s do a quick comparison:

In Alex Smith’s Chiefs career, he was 50-26 in Win-Loss, he threw 102 touchdowns to 33 interceptions and had a 94.8 QBR. The most important stat, however, is that in four playoff appearances, Smith’s crew had one win. 

In Kirk Cousins’ Vikings career, he was 18-12-1 in Win-Loss, although a smaller sample size. He threw 56 touchdowns to 16 interceptions and posted a 104 QBR. Cousins, like Smith, has one playoff win in two appearances. 

The Vikings might decide that they want to wait until the three year deal is over, but they might also decide that good is the enemy of great. 

The quarterback class this year consists of many great talents and if Minnesota wants their franchise passer, this could be the year to make a move. Names like Jordan Love, Justin Herbert, Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm are all in play. Former LSU QB Joe Burrow is all but a lock to go number one, but if the Vikings are considering trading the farm, they could get a wonderful QB in Tua Tagovailoa. 

However, we are all Vikings fans and this could probably go totally wrong, resulting in another Christian Ponder. Recency bias can affect people into believing that every swing is going to end up a home-run hitter, as seen through Mahomes and Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. This isn’t always the case, though, as seen through Josh Freeman, Mark Sanchez, and Blaine Gabbert trade ups. 

There are only six quarterbacks drafted in this decade that I believe are substantially better than Kirk Cousins: Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson. In this last decade, 117 quarterbacks were chosen. 

This is a 5.9% success rate. This is also only four draft classes in the last ten: a 40% chance of success that a quarterback better than Cousins is even in the draft. 

All of this being said, if there’s a chance to get a franchise quarterback, you get him. 

"It's not a decision that I took lightly," Clark Hunt said. "But with all things considered, it was not a hard decision. The chance to get a quarterback who can be a franchise quarterback for the Chiefs in the future made it a pretty easy decision."