Going into the 2021 NFL Draft, by far the most interesting storyline to watch from a league-wide perspective has been the quarterback debate. Coming into the season, Trevor Lawrence was pretty much a shoo-in to become the No. 1 overall pick, with Justin Fields on his tail. While the blond-haired Greek God is still likely to be headed to Jacksonville, the waters behind him have muddied.
Fields’ status as the second-best QB prospect has been contested by Zach Wilson (BYU), Mac Jones (Alabama), and Trey Lance (NDSU). Wilson and Jones put up gaudy numbers last year, and Lance had a crazy 2019 season. Needless to say, the quarterback pool is as talented as we’ve seen in recent memory, and we could easily see signal-callers taken off the board with the first four picks this year. QBs have been taken with the top three picks in only two drafts ever: 1971 and 1999. Four in a row would be an NFL record.
For Vikings fans, this means that they probably won’t be going quarterback in the first round barring some crazy slip by one of the top guys.
This likely won’t come as a major surprise as Minnesota certainly has various other directions it probably should go (*cough cough* offensive line), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a little disappointing. The Vikings have struggled with consistency at quarterback for what seems like a millennium, and fans are well aware of this trend.
In fact, going into next season Kirk Cousins is looking to become only the second quarterback since 1987 to start the majority of the Vikings’ games for more than three consecutive years.
To say Minnesota fans are hungry for some youth at the quarterback position would be an understatement. Cousins is still under contract for two more seasons, but it’d be nice if the Vikings were a little forward-thinking and jumped on a young quarterback before his contract expires as to aid in a smooth transition.
Enter Kellen Mond, a four-year starter at Texas A&M who just had his pro day on Tuesday, and guess who was in attendance?
Mond isn’t getting a lot of attention despite putting up solid numbers in college. Over the course of four years at College Station, he threw for a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 71-27 and had a career passer rating of 132.0.
He even had his best season last year, leading the Aggies to a 9-1 record despite losing his top three receivers from the year before. Adversity isn’t something new for Mond; in fact, he relishes it.
“Personally, I don’t mind being underrated,” Mond told The Athletic’s Sam Khan Jr. following his pro day. “I think it’s pretty telling how a quarterback is able to change an entire culture.”
That’s not to say he doesn’t have his issues, as he completed just 59.0 percent of his passes with the Aggies. There’s a reason why he’s not in consideration with some of the other top quarterback options, but if he lands in the right situation he could develop into a viable starter.
Right now, he’s projected to be in the neighborhood of a third-round draft pick, which Minnesota just happens to have two of at the moment.
He’s been described as a pocket passer, who has enough athleticism to make something happen outside of the pocket if need be. While he’s not identical to Cousins, he shares some similar skills. Plus, who would be better to have as a mentor than someone who was also a mid-round draft pick and worked his way from backup to briefly being the highest-paid player in football?
Mond turned heads at the Senior Bowl, and he’s done nothing but put up numbers in his college career.
For Rick Spielman, it’s really the perfect storm because going out and getting Mond wouldn’t compromise the rest of the team’s draft. The Vikings would still be able to grab an offensive lineman and/or edge rusher. Mond would also fill a secondary need: The Vikings haven’t had a backup quarterback you can have any confidence about since Cousins came to town. Sure, he’s as durable as they come, but that doesn’t mean he still couldn’t get injured and miss some time.
Both Spielman and Mike Zimmer have repeatedly said that Cousins is the Vikings’ quarterback, which doesn’t change if they bring in Mond. I think it can really only be a positive, as it strengthens the quarterback room and may even add a little competition.
Now, would Cousins be competing for his job? Absolutely not. But we’ve seen in the past what lighting a fire under players can do to their performance.
It’d be a different situation with Mond, but I think he’d still push Cousins to become better. In all reality, drafting him not only helps set up some clarity on the future of the quarterback position in Minnesota, but also helps bolster the group in the interim.
This hypothetical is really a perfect marriage, as the Vikings and Mond both have what each other needs. So, whether you realized it already or not, it is time to board the Mond train before it leaves College Station.