The Minnesota Vikings need a quarterback who can play behind Kirk Cousins and eventually take over for him, but they probably won’t use their 14th-overall pick on a QB. With no second-round pick, they will have to be creative if they want to find an impact quarterback in this draft. The natural choice here is Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask, who is projected to be available in the second or third round.
The Vikings have enough late-round capital to play with and could easily jump into the second round to grab the heir apparent to Cousins, who is entering his age-33 season. By drafting Trask, the front office will be taking a proactive approach to the most important position in football. It may mean trading back into the second round, but this is the blueprint for the modern NFL: Bring in a project quarterback as your current starter enters their mid-thirties and allow the player you drafted to develop under a veteran. By the time the incumbent’s contract is up, the experience and knowledge gained from having been a backup will pay dividends.
It’s what the Kansas City Chiefs did with Patrick Mahomes. He spent his first year as Alex Smith’s backup, was game-ready when asked to take over as the starter, and became the youngest player ever to win Super Bowl MVP. The Baltimore Ravens took the same approach, placing Lamar Jackson behind Joe Flacco for a year, and two years ago he was the unanimous league MVP. It’s a proven method, one that the Vikings should follow, allowing them to capitalize financially on a quarterback’s rookie contract — one of the most valuable deals in the NFL.
Trask went 8-4 with the Gators last season and left the program to capitalize on an above-average final season to help vault him higher in the draft. Trask threw for 4,283 yards, 43 touchdowns, and eight interceptions last year. Pundits far and wide have debated Trask’s ability to adapt to the NFL, especially regarding his mobility, which is why he’s expected to drop to the second round.
Many immobile quarterbacks who succeed in the NFL have above-average arm talent, but Trask doesn’t have that either. However, he is a steady pocket passer with knowledge of the game and the ability to manage the offense, making him the perfect fit for the Vikings. Given that they should have an above-average running game and stout defense for years to come, Trask would be asked not to lose the game.
Throughout his time in Gainesville, Trask capitalized on what defenses gave him. He took care of the ball and was awarded with the most passing touchdowns by a Gators QB in 24 years. He completed nearly 70% of his passes in three years at Florida and would play a similar role to Cousins in Minnesota’s offense.
Many fans balk at the idea of drafting a game manager, and for good reason. Drafting Patrick Mahomes, Russell Wilson, or Aaron Rodgers changes the fortunes of a franchise. But while a game manager cannot carry a team to the Super Bowl, they won’t put you in a position to lose. It’s why Alex Smith and Andy Dalton continued to get contracts into their 30s.
Trask offers heightened pocket presence, largely because he has no business outside of the pocket. By practicing with an NFL team, studying the playbook, and charting plays for a veteran like Cousins, he eventually may develop into a starting-caliber quarterback at the next level.
He isn’t a starting offensive lineman, nor is Trask an impact defensive player. But drafting him is a necessity given the current quarterback situation in Minnesota. The Vikings could always sign an expensive free-agent quarterback, but the current trend in the NFL is to draft quarterbacks and build a team around them while they are on their rookie contract.
There is no guarantee that Trask will develop into a reliable starter. But drafting and developing signal-callers is necessary if Minnesota is ever going to find their quarterback of the future without tanking for one.