After the better part of a month descending into a panic over the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback conundrum, I’m taking a mental health sabbatical.
In the past three weeks, I discussed the need for the Vikings to pursue their next young passer. But after all that time wracking my brain with trade scenarios and scouting reports, what if it’s all for naught?
I’ve written plenty about how desperately I want to see this franchise finally take a swing on their quarterback of the future, but perhaps it’s that hope that’s really the problem. If you listen to guys like Justin Jefferson discuss Minnesota’s quarterback situation, they seem to be fine with the idea of running it back with Kirk.
Perhaps Kirk Cousins isn’t the hot young passer we dreamed of, but he’s the quarterback we’re hitched to. I echo the sentiment of many fans who appreciate Cousins but are ready to move on. That said, with a grossly competitive market, it may be prudent to just eat at home.
My lame attempts at memes aside, I need a player at pick No. 11 who can really get me jazzed. The type of scheme fit and freak athleticism that can help me get over my Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye-envy. I need a bonafide badass who fans can look back on a decade from now and tell themselves, Yeah, it wasn’t Caleb Williams, but Kwesi still knocked that pick out of the park.
I believe Jared Verse is that guy.
Power. Instincts. Athleticism. Powerful hands that smack you like they’re made of cinder blocks. A bull rush that can sack a quarterback with his own left tackle. Jared Verse is just too much fun. Draft guru Daniel Jeremiah did a write-up on his initial impressions of Verse before his senior season, and I loved this quote.
There are so many things to love about the way Verse plays the game, but one word shows up more than any other when I study my notes: EFFORT! I jotted it down several times. I highlighted it. I wrote it in all caps. I starred it. It showed up in every game, multiple times. That is the most underrated trait in every great pass rusher. He doesn’t play with a governor on his effort. Run or pass, he is always chasing the ball to and through the whistle.
And he’s right. There’s a blue-collar tenacity to everything Verse does That makes sense, given his background.
Verse began his college career as a zero-star recruit out of Pennsylvania with a single college offer to play for D-2 Albany. Completely unheralded, Verse developed his frame and refined his skillset. He quickly showed an undeniable raw talent. Verse was named the CAA Rookie of the Year in his first year as a starter, leading the conference in tackles for loss. He needed a lot of refinement, but his freak athleticism jumped off the screen.
Verse’s career changed forever when he got his chance to compete against D-1 competition. The Albany Great Danes were taking on Syracuse, and Verse made the most of his opportunity. He may not have dominated on the stat sheet, but his film was eye-popping. Florida State head coach Mike Norvell saw it leading up to his upcoming game against the Orange. Norvell noted the motor and raw talent of the end from Albany.
When Verse entered the transfer portal looking for his chance in the big leagues, Mike Norvell was his first call.
Verse brings that chip on his shoulder to every play. He takes nothing for granted; he’s earned everything. He will fight for every inch with everything he’s got, and the play is never dead until the whistle blows. And that power and tenacity makes me so excited about the idea of Verse in Brian Flores’ defense.
We all marveled at the ingenuity of Flores’ defense, especially in the middle part of the season. He asked for a lot of versatility from his defensive line as he went full-on, blitz-crazy mad scientist. Flores needed players to eat up blocks to free up incoming blitzers or win one-on-one when given the opportunity. He also needed the power to set the edge in the running game, which some of the lighter defensive ends on the roster sometimes struggled with.
But as we saw, Flores’ defense wasn’t exceptional late in the season. Offensive minds Zac Taylor, Ben Johnson, and Matt LaFleur seemed to figure out Flores’ scheme out. His ability to counterpunch will likely define the rest of Flores’ tenure in Minnesota. Flores made the most of a depleted roster to find a way to generate pressure, but he may not be able to rely solely on his bag of tricks in 2024. A young, dynamic pass rusher like Verse could take Minnesota’s defense to another level, and Verse couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Danielle Hunter.
If the Vikings are gonna run it back again in 2024, then bolstering that defense is the No. 1 priority. They need dynamic athletes who allow Flores to generate pressure without blitzing every other play. Jared Verse is the type of athletic prototype and hard worker I’ll always be willing to bet on.