The rumor mill was in full swing as this year’s draft approached, with questions lingering about what the Vikings would do at the quarterback position. Would they trade up for Justin Fields? Could they send Kirk Cousins to the San Francisco 49ers in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo? After a whirlwind during the draft where they ended up picking Kellen Mond 66th overall, it is fair to wonder how Mond fits the Vikings right now and how he might shape the offense in the future.
Mond was firmly a tier below the top-four quarterbacks from this year’s draft class. However, in the right situation there is a chance that he exceeds the role of a backup quarterback. He may get that opportunity with the Vikings. According to Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, Mond has landed in just the right spot to take his development to the next level.
“Being behind Kirk, who’s a great veteran, who’s been productive, I think it’s a perfect setup for [Mond],” Fisher said, via Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “I’m happy. I think Minnesota’s one of the top organizations in [the NFL], and I think that’s very important where you go and play pro football. I think [Zimmer is] a great football coach, a great football mind.”
It is inspiring to see Mond make steady improvements throughout his college career, playing some of the toughest competition in the SEC. Some of Mond’s biggest strengths are playing in a clean pocket (90.8 PFF grade), his rushing ability, and producing at a good rate beyond his first read. Mond had a 78 PFF grade on his first read, but it rose to 80 after that.
Conversely, Mond struggled to throw outside the numbers, which is his biggest red flag. He completed just 14 of 57 passes throwing beyond 10 yards when he was outside the hash marks.
PFF charted the way that Mond’s abilities may transfer to the NFL before the draft, using a variety of metrics including play-by-play grading, athletic profiles, and charting data to predict how a player may perform in his first five pro seasons. They compared how Mond would play in the same system as he did at Texas A&M, a league-average system, a longer-developing one, and one based on play-action — similar to what the Vikings run.
The method gave projections of yards per attempt and completion percentage. Ranking in terms of yards per attempt, here are the offenses Mond is best suited for:
- Longer-developing (7.2 yards/attempt)
- Play-action (7.0 yards/attempt)
- League average (6.9 yards/attempt)
- Texas A&M system (6.7 yards/attempt)
If we alter this in terms of completion percentage, we get these results:
- Play-action (61.9%)
- League average (61.3%)
- Texas A&M (60.7%)
- Longer-developing (60.1%)
These results offer the conclusion that perhaps the Texas A&M offense wasn’t best suited for Mond. But the play-action offense, similar to what the Vikings run, might be. In the projection, an estimated play-action offense consisted of a pressure rate in the 20s, runs play-action 40% of the time, and consisted of quick passes. The Vikings ran play action at the eighth-highest rate in 2020.
Assuming that Mond gets an opportunity to start as early as 2023 or 2024, he would have a supporting cast of Justin Jefferson, Dalvin Cook, Irv Smith Jr., and Adam Thielen, among others. The Vikings become the perfect fit for him not just because of his strengths in running the play-action offense, but also because of the added rushing ability.