How important is it for the Vikings to draft a quarterback in 2021?

(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins
(Photo by Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports) Kirk Cousins /

The 2021 NFL Draft is coming up and fans of the Minnesota Vikings have to be excited by the idea of some top collegiate talents joining the team to make a push for a hopeful 2021 playoff berth after missing out last year.

Minnesota has some needs they need to address during the three-day event. Competition and depth are needed at several positions and the Vikings hold the rights to ten selections, including four fourth-round picks.

The purple and gold could choose to use one of those picks on a quarterback if they see potential in a prospect, but ESPN’s Courtney Cronin recently released an article stating that the team’s draft class “hinges on finding a potential successor to Kirk Cousins” in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Is it time for the Vikings to plan for a Kirk Cousins exit?

It’s understandable that some fans don’t see Cousins sticking around for much longer. The quarterback has a $31M salary cap hit this season and $45M in 2022, which is the final year of his contract according to Spotrac. A cap hit that large does make him a candidate for release, but it would be surprising to see the franchise move in this direction.

The Vikings seem to love what Kirk Cousins has to offer at the quarterback position. Statistically, he is among the best passers in the league, and his durability combined with execution in the red zone and a low touchdown to interception ratio makes him a more likely candidate for an extension rather than a release.

Instead, Cronin believes that the draft is “the ideal time for Spielman and the Vikings to address the succession plan at quarterback” by selecting a passer to serve as Minnesota’s backup and groom to become the team’s starter when Cousins’ time is up in Minnesota and that future passer can be found in Round 3 or later of the draft.

Why the Vikings can afford to ignore quarterback in the draft

Minnesota has made do with some underwhelming backup quarterbacks since Cousins arrived. Sean Mannion and Trevor Siemian have been the team’s No. 2 passers. Siemian never threw a pass and Mannion still hasn’t thrown an NFL touchdown after five seasons in the league. Making those choices to be backups for Cousins shows how much faith the team has in their current starting quarterback.

Spending a late-round draft pick or signing a budget free agent with NFL experience to sit behind Cousins makes a lot more sense than moving on from a franchise quarterback and hoping the Vikings can draft and develop mid-to-late round quarterback, especially when Minnesota has not shown the ability to do so in the past.