B/W Case: Ideally, Kellen Mond Provides Vikings With Potential, Upside
Unlike Minnesota’s first-round pick, Kellen Mond will hopefully spend the vast majority of his rookie season with the Vikings on the bench.
We’ve long known that Minnesota needed a sizeable upgrade at backup QB. Love him or hate him, Kirk Cousins will be the starter in 2021. After Cousins, though, there was plenty of uncertainty, at least until the Vikings chose Mond 66th overall. What’s his best and worst case heading into 2021?
Mond’s Best Case
It’s impossible to assess Mond’s value independent of the broader team context.
As previously mentioned, the Vikings really needed to improve backup QB. Mond is that improvement. Where he’s unique from other players is that we really shouldn’t be cheering for him to get on the field (at least not very much). Indeed, if Mond ends up taking a lot of snaps, then it’s because something has gone horribly wrong with Cousins.
There has been some intriguing film analysis coming out about Mond. He has his shortcomings (as we all do), but people are enthusiastic about his work ethic, toughness, and arm strength. His throwing motion is pretty tight. In his senior year, Mond had a 63.3 completion %, 2282 passing yards, 19 TDs, 3 INTs, and a 146.9 QB rating. He also had 294 rushing yards, which was actually his lowest total in all four years in college. In fairness, the 2020 season also featured his lowest rushing attempts and his best per carry average (tied with the 2019 season). Fans shouldn’t be too concerned about last year’s modest rushing numbers.
As you’ll see in the above video, Kellen Mond is a legit dual-threat QB, so he brings a unique skill-set to the Vikings. We shouldn’t be surprised if Lil’Kub finds a way to get Mond onto the field. His running and throwing ability will put defenses in a tricky spot, so perhaps some plays that feature him on third & short – an inherently unpredictable scenario – makes some sense.
Indeed, the best case for Mond is that he shows considerable improvement throughout the season, functions as a sober-second-thought for Cousins on the sidelines, and contributes in a limited capacity on the field.
Mond’s Worst Case
Playing in the NFL is going to be a sizeable transition for Mond.
In college, Mond took a lot of snaps in the pistol and shotgun. With Minnesota, Mond will need to adjust to being under center the majority of the time. Zim, quite evidently, wants his offense to be unpredictable, a goal he pursues by ensuring there’s a real balance between the run and pass. When the QB is under center, it’s really difficult to know whether the Vikes will run or pass. This approach also allows for play-action to be more effective. Mond will need to grow in this facet of his game.
Growth, of course, is not guaranteed. A lot of players rise to the challenge; a lot of players flounder. Time will tell how Mond responds.
The worst case involves Kellen Mond not only failing to show meaningful progress during practice, but also creating a headache for the Vikings’ QB room. Immediately after the 66th selection, many Vikings writers and fans flirted with the idea that Minnesota had found their Cousins replacement. Perhaps Mond will end up being that replacement, but we don’t want to go there any time soon. A QB controversy is not what our Vikings need.
As strange as it sounds, we ought to be cheering for Mond to have a very limited role in 2021.
Kellen Mond is pretty much guaranteed a roster spot with our Vikings. He’ll be the team’s QB2.
It’s possible that Minnesota takes a Saints-style approach to QB. Last year, New Orleans capitalized on Taysom Hill’s athleticism to give defenses a different look from Drew Brees. Perhaps Minnesota does something similar with Mond, using the rookie’s running abilities for gadget plays designed to keep the defense off balance.
Otherwise, Mond’s value will mostly involve offering the team upside and potential moving forward. Moreover, having Mond on the roster may impact the next Cousins negotiation by giving the team some added leverage.
An absolutely perfect world would also involve seeing Mond late in the fourth quarter since the Vikings are leading by a mile. He can take some practice reps under center within victory formation.
Alas, a fan can dream.