The Minnesota Vikings waited until the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft to finally settle on a quarterback. However, turns out they were trying to settle on Bryce Young — by moving up in the draft.
Insider Reveals Vikings Tried To Trade Up for Heisman Trophy Winner
NFL Network Insider Tom Peliseero revealed on the Pat McAfee Show (with Ian Rapoport filling in as host) on Wednesday morning that Minnesota was making the attempt to swap with the Carolina Panthers, all to nab the first overall pick.
“They were making calls about moving up very high in the draft,” Pelissero explained. “But my understanding is that was for one player, and that was Bryce Young, who ended up going No. 1, and so there went any possibility for Minnesota to go get him.”
Minnesota eventually took Jaren Hall at No. 164 overall on the draft’s final day. Pelissero didn’t add what the Vikings were willing to surrender to land at the top spot of the draft. But the team has had notable names like quarterback Kirk Cousins, running back Dalvin Cook, and outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith as trade candidates during the offseason.
How Bryce Young Would’ve Fit Kevin O’Connell’s System
Had Minnesota somehow managed to grab Young, the complexion of the Vikings’ offense changes drastically.
For starters, Cousins has made his living as a dropback, set up, and throw passer — but not one who’s built for designed read-option plays or comes with the escaping ability to turn a QB pressure into a gain of 20+ yards. Young, meanwhile, brings a more dynamic element when facing pressure.
From a throwing standpoint, though, Young’s arm would have been perfect for Minnesota head coach Kevin O’Connell’s attack. It’s an offense with pre-snap motion and shifts, followed by multiple WR sets (base is three-wide) and accompanied by zone running plays…also known as the formations and schematics Young had at his disposal in Tuscaloosa.
It’s a QB-friendly offense that was lured over via the Los Angeles Rams and went on to shred defenses during their march to Super Bowl 56 when O’Connell was Sean McVay’s offensive coordinator. While Matthew Stafford was a pocket passer, the Rams still had two mobile options behind center in John Wolford and Bryce Perkins.
With Young having more of an elastic arm strength, he would’ve fit O’Connell’s scheme as a passer who can fling it from different angles while still maintaining a strong velocity. However, Young proved he can deliver strikes during situations of discomfort — in other words, when teams blitz up the gut or apply pressure from the outsides. Young still looked poised facing the potential field collision and delivered the strike that drained the confidence of the blitz calls.
Nevertheless, Young is still heading to an offensive whiz in former NFL backup QB Frank Reich.
Young Not First High-Rated Passer Linked to Vikings
Young isn’t the only first-round caliber passer to be linked as a possibility to Minnesota.
Anthony Richardson of Florida was long considered a possibility to land with the Vikings, with the April 25 suggestion of moving up to land the Gator. Richardson, however, was taken early by the Indianapolis Colts at No. 4 overall.
Meanwhile, the Vikings were considered the betting favorite to draft Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker by DraftKings. The Vikes, however, opted to pass on him at No. 23 to select wide receiver Jordan Addison out of USC.