Minnesota Vikings QB Coach Has A Misunderstanding With New QB Sam Darnold, Says He Is Not Capable Enough For…

Does the Minnesota Vikings’ choice of quarterback in the draft matter less than Kevin O’Connell?

There are an endless number of questions surrounding which quarterback prospect the Minnesota Vikings are targeting in the 2024 NFL Draft. Most of the foundational questions, however, are either (a) impossible for anyone to answer or (b) impossible for anyone outside of the Vikings war room to answer.

kevin o'connell, minnesota vikings

And there’s one fundamental question that I continue to come back to (mostly because it is impossible to answer). It surrounds, not the available QBs, but the QB genius of Vikings head coach, Kevin O’Connell. Minnesota has been tagged as the best landing spot for any quarterback drafted in the first round, no matter if that that QB is Jayden Daniels (LSU), Drake Maye (UNC), JJ McCarthy (Michigan), Michael Penix Jr (Washington) or Bo Nix (Oregon).

The finest place for a rookie quarterback to land is the Minnesota Vikings.

Why? Well, it starts with the depth chart. Minnesota has one of the best WR1/WR2 combos in football, with Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison, not to mention arguably the best young tackle combination in the NFL, in Brian O’Neill and Christian Darrisaw.

When he recovers from his injury, add veteran pro bowl tight end TJ Hockenson and the recently acquired Aaron Jones to the backfield. And good luck in trying to locate a quarterback in the center of that offense who wouldn’t mind being dumped. But it’s not only about the tools their rookie quarterback will have in Minnesota; according to the league, head coach Kevin O’Connell may be the best young QB whisperer out there.

Coach Kevin O’Connell has shown to be an excellent play designer, caller, and teacher for quarterbacks, so whoever the Vikings select should be pleased with the growth. O’Connell’s players will reach their ceiling, whatever that may be. Others enrolled in this preliminary course may not be possible to state the same considering the venue and coach of the team.

A great quarterback or a terrific atmosphere should come first.

In all of American professional sports, the most fundamentally important “chicken or egg” debate centers on what is most important for a young quarterback’s growth. Which counts more—a quarterback’s skill, work ethic, and intelligence alone, or the circumstances surrounding his selection choice?

Because, someone who believes in the latter may have a very different opinion on how the Minnesota Vikings should attack the 2024 NFL Draft, vs someone who believes great talent, work ethic and QB smarts will ultimately succeed, no matter the draftee’s situation.

Sure, if the Minnesota Vikings were sitting at the No. 2 overall pick, and could choose whichever QB they prefer (outside of Caleb Williams) without spending additional draft capital to get him, then the pre-draft evaluation process would be much more focused on each specific QB, and how they compare to one another.

Is faith in Kevin O’Connell more significant than faith in the quarterback target?

However, we keep returning to the initial “chicken vs. egg” or “QB vs. environment” debate, especially in light of the numerous rumors that Minnesota is considering a big climb up the draft board that might cost as many as THREE first-round selections (plus more).

If we assume the experts are right, that the Vikings have the best situation available for developing a rookie quarterback, then this staff needs to figure out HOW MUCH better one QB can become, if fostered under Kevin O’Connell’s tutelage, vs another. Because whatever that projected gap is, it has to make up the difference between giving away and keeping multiple 1st round picks.

Sure, it’s widely believed that Daniels, Maye and McCarthy (Tier 1) would end up as better NFL quarterbacks than Nix and Penix Jr (Tier 2), if all five were raised in a vacuum. But will Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah believe that those “Tier 1” quarterbacks, if raised by KOC, will end up one, two, even three 1st round picks better than the “Tier 2” options. Because those guys won’t cost anything more than the slot they are drafted in.

In reality, (even with KOC and a bunch of offensive weapons), the odds are against any of these five QBs becoming NFL superstars. So, the more the Vikings spend to draft one of them, the bigger the risk that pick becomes and the harder it will be to build a winning roster around them.

So if Kevin O’Connell thinks he has just as good of a chance at making Bo Nix or Michael Penix Jr into legitimate NFL starters, as he does in his ability to make Daniels, Maye or McCarthy into (let’s say) top-10 QB talents… how much is he willing to risk for that higher ceiling?

Because, unless one of those “Tier 1” guys falls to them at No. 11, that’s the question that’s the most important question of all.

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