Roster Projection: Cousins Leads Vikings QBs
Before the season arrives, TVG will have put together a full roster prediction for our Vikings. We begin with the most important position: quarterback.
Up until recently, the position was dominated by one man: Kirk Cousins. Now, one could easily argue that this is still the case. Cousins will be Minnesota’s starting QB in 2021, and there’s essentially no chance anything will change that reality (apart from an injury). What has changed, though, is that we now have a backup with upside, a stark contrast to past seasons.
Perhaps the main competition here is at QB3, but there is still a lot of intrigue for the position.
The Near Guarantees
Cousins and Kellen Mond will be on this team. The opening day roster will feature them as QB1 and QB2 unless there is an offseason injury.
What can we expect from them?
Let’s start with Cousins. Fans can (and do) disagree on whether he has the it-factor necessary to get us to the Super Bowl, but no one can doubt that he puts in a ton of time and effort. Partner that with some underrated athleticism and a really great arm and you’ve got a top-12 NFL QB.
As we’ve noted before, being a Cousins fan – not altogether unlike being a Vikings fan – can be a wild ride. Just as there are times when he descends into low-teens, so too are there times when he plays like a top-5 QB. He almost always works his way back to that borderline top-10 spot. The first six games in 2020 were awful; the final ten were, by and large, excellent. Hopefully he’ll make more plays like this one:
Fans shouldn’t expect too much from Mond this season. In many ways, we should all hope that he only sees a handful of snaps at the end of games. If he does, then it’ll likely be because Minnesota is up big and can afford to rest their starter.
Be that as it may, Mond will be on this team. Minnesota made him the second pick of the third round. If they didn’t choose him there, Mond would have been scooped up before they had another chance. It’s hard to say where the majority of Vikings fans find themselves on Mond. Some believe he will replace Cousins, but I don’t think that was Spielman’s intent. Picking Mond, from my perspective, is all about having a competent backup QB and giving the team some much-needed leverage for the next Cousins extension.
Furthermore, we should all be paying attention to whether Minnesota gets a more focused, locked-in Cousins following the Mond pick. It’s possible that having a young player with upside will give our veteran starter some motivation to do really well, similar to the Jordan Love Effect in Green Bay last year.
The True Competition
Nate Stanley and Jake Browning are competing for the QB3 role. It may seem insignificant, but it’s a relatively important role, especially in our Covid world. An injury at either the starter or backup spot means the QB3 is one play away from needing to take snaps at the NFL’s most important position.
Let’s start with Stanley. Last offseason, we predicted that he’d make the team over Sean Mannion. That ended up being wrong, but the rationale was reasonable enough. Stanley was drafted by the team and was a favorite of the Elder Kub. He has great size and intangibles. He’s a pocket passer who could slide into the offense without needing very much to be adjusted for him. He offers a decent floor but little upside.
Browning, a former UDFA, offers more athleticism than Stanley. That said, it’s tough to be overly confident in his abilities at this stage. Perhaps he would be a fine NFL QB, but there’s really no reason to be overly confident. He has been around for a few years and doesn’t have any on-field experience. He has largely remained potential. Time is likely running out for Browning.
The Vikings Roster Prediction at QB
Kirk Cousins will be the starter and Kellen Mond will be the backup. I believe that it’s possible both Browning and Stanley will be kept on the practice squad. If it’s only one, I think Minnesota will lean toward keeping Stanley.
Next up is the wide receivers.