Kevin O


Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings


Getty

Head coach Kevin O’Connell of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have created a welcoming environment for quarterbacks.

Their infrastructure – including coaches Kevin O’Connell and Josh McCown as well as skill position players like Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson – rivals any around the league. And if they can get themselves into position, they could be the ideal landing spot for one of the 2024 draft’s top QB prospects: North Carolina’s Drake Maye.

“Multiple evaluators pointed out Minnesota is the perfect place for Maye … should the Vikings move up to get him,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler wrote on April 16. “Scouts noted he’s smart, relaxed and even witty in interviews.”

Pre-draft projections have had Maye anywhere from the No. 2 overall pick to No. 5 when the draft opens on April 25.

There is interest from and a connection to Maye for the Vikings.

“McCown’s presence is … useful because he can relate to veterans and has experience working with highly touted draftees (Sam Darnold, Jalen Hurts, Bryce Young, etc.),” The Athletic’s Alec Lewis wrote on March 4. “Another facet to consider: McCown coached North Carolina’s Drake Maye, whom the Vikings adore.”


Drake Maye Draws Comparisons to Josh Allen, Carson Wentz

Josh Allen, Minnesota Vikings

GettyJosh Allen #17 of the Buffalo Bills.

There is a lot for the Vikings to like about Maye. He is one of the youngest quarterback prospects in the class. He also fits the bill of a prototypical quarterback physically, drawing comparisons to a pair of former MVP candidates in Josh Allen and Carson Wentz.

“Extremely gifted athlete, best size of all the guys — confident he’s still developing with enormous upside,” an anonymous NFC exec said, per Fowler. “Can make all of the throws and is a very good athlete to create on his own as a runner and passer. Highly competitive. He’s got star potential.”

Maye completed 64.8% of his passes for 7,929 yards, 62 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions last season.

He endured a step back from his sophomore to junior seasons, creating skeptics of his ceiling.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Maye was the consensus No. 2 QB prospect in the class before the games ended. His fluctuating stock could see him slide just enough to justify the cost of the Vikings potentially moving up.

Any of the Arizona Cardinals (No. 4 overall) or Los Angeles Chargers (No. 5) could be trade partners. That’s only if Maye makes it past the top three picks of the draft though.

The New York Giants (No. 6) could poach whichever QB is on the board when they pick.

“He does need some time, and there will be growing pains, but you take him because he has the most upside of everybody,” a prominent personnel figure said, per Fowler. “There’s major ability there. I worry that if you take him and you don’t have a supporting cast and a good offensive line or receivers and he has to play right away, he will struggle early.”


T.J. Hockenson Touts Vikings’ Support System for New QB

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

GettyT.J. Hockenson #87 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Vikings are all set to start the journeyman, Darnold. But Hockenson made note of the strong supporting cast around him or any passer who steps in under center.

It includes second-year wide receiver Jordan Addison.

“We’re able to help out in certain situations, and we learned that last year throughout the year,” Hockenson told reporters on April 16. “When a guy comes in the quarterback position, they got a lot to look at.

“It is nice to have to be able to have, obviously, JJ, who’s been in this offense for as long as KO’s been here, me having it for a year and a half, and JA having a year under his belt. And, obviously, the whole line’s been here since KO’s been here,” Hockenson said. “That’s been that’s huge to be able to have a veteran group like that, and to be able to help out in that certain sense.”

Josh Buckhalter covers the NBA and NFL for Heavy.com with a focus on the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos. He has covered the NBA and NFL since 2016, including bylines at FanSided, Last Word on Sports and Clocker Sports. He’s based in Villa Park, Illinois. Follow Josh on Twitter and Instagram: @JoshGBuck More about Josh Buckhalter



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