Vikings

Vikings Fans’ Pre-Draft Stress Has Never Been More Real

Photo Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past four months, I’ve written about every aspect of the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback situation.

I’ve written about team-building philosophy and how to nurture a young quarterback, bridge quarterbacks, and how desperate half the league is for a quarterback. I even compared Minnesota’s strategy for navigating the draft night bidding war to a fifth-century Chinese military treatise. My day-to-day life is simply a distraction from my constant stress over the Vikings’ quarterback situation.

It all culminates on Thursday, April 25. And if you haven’t guessed, I’m more than a little anxious.

Thoughts and prayers are appreciated for those unable to attend my draft party/support group in person.

This offseason, much has been made about how this Vikings team is primed for success and perfectly suited to nurture a young franchise quarterback. We know all about the bookend tackles on the offensive line, the trifecta of receivers that may be among the best in the NFL, and the bright, offensive-minded head coach. How many rookies can say they’ve been drafted into a better situation?

Couple that optimism with the Houston Texans trade to acquire a second first-round pick, which indicated that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is fueling the rocket for a launch up the draft board. Suddenly, the Vikings were in the dominant position in the trade-up market, seemingly boxing out the likes of the Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, and even the New York Giants in the bidding war for one of the top quarterbacks. The Houston move made all of our hopes and dreams about an aggressive move for a franchise quarterback finally feel like a reality.

But ask yourself, Vikings fans. Doesn’t this all feel too perfect?

Doesn’t it feel too serendipitous that the Vikings seemingly have the perfect infrastructure to foster a young quarterback the year that there happens to be a supposedly great quarterback class, and they’ve seemingly primed themselves to be in the perfect position to move up and take one? If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 13 years since I adopted this beautiful, cursed franchise with my fandom, it’s the inevitability of crushing disappointment.

Whether you share that level of pessimistic superstition or not, one thing is abundantly clear: This could all go completely, catastrophically wrong.

Drafting a quarterback, no matter how high you pick him, is an incredibly risky and high-variance proposition. For every Josh Allen or Joe Burrow, we’ve got busloads of would-be superstars like Josh Rosen, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mitch Trubisky, and Sam Darnold. All of these players were top-10 picks selected with the hope of being their franchise’s savior, yet many of them were instead destined to be career backups and journeymen. If the Vikings truly are in this incredible window to seize the day with a young quarterback, it will be all the more tragic if their franchise hero ends up flopping.

Or worse, they successfully identify the next superstar quarterback in this class, but they never get to take him. Suppose the Vikings think Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, or Jayden Daniels are truly destined for superstardom. Then it’s also quite likely that the Washington Commanders or New England Patriots will have a similar evaluation. Once again, Minnesota is left on the outside looking in.

If they choose the right guy and manage to secure his services, they may finally have the pieces in place to develop and become a perennial contender. But if this selection fails, especially at the cost of multiple first-round picks, all while squandering the best years of this roster, it could completely upend the Vikings as we know them.

There’s a dystopian reality in which the Vikings fire Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. All of the offensive talent like Christian Darrisaw, T.J. Hockenson, Brian O’Neill, and Jordan Addison is either too old or expensive to keep together, and a disgruntled Justin Jefferson is demanding a trade due to the catastrophe he’s played with at quarterback. If that situation seems far-fetched, imagine the Vikings trade three first-round picks to draft J.J. McCarthy, and he ends up being Mitch Trubisky.

Despite all of this pessimism and despair, I agree with the many Vikings fans and analysts who believe that this franchise can’t afford to hedge their bets and play it safe at this position any longer. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell need to go get their guy, and in doing so, they will be tied to that pick more so than any other GM and head coach in Vikings history.

As fans, we’ll have no idea whether or not they made the right decision when the draft is over. There will undoubtedly be strong feelings and hot takes on either side of the argument, but who knows? The Purple Faithful will have to have patience and give the new guy an honest chance, no matter how elated or agonized they feel on draft night.

Either way, the future of this team we all love hangs in the balance on Thursday. There are countless ways this all could play out, with many scenarios completely outside of the team’s control, and many of them could end very, very poorly.

My recommendation is to huddle close with friends and family, take a deep breath, and try not to let the crushing thought of the football gods ruining everything you know and love about your favorite team ruin the big night. Because as preconditioned as Vikings fans (like this one) are to expect their high hopes to be dashed, this could also be the dawning of a bright future.

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