Within the first few hours of the new league year, the Minnesota Vikings signed Kirk Cousins to a contract extension, locking up their veteran quarterback through 2022.
While his fresh contract would insinuate that the Vikings are set at the position for years to come, there is plenty of precedent for teams looking down the road several years and taking quarterbacks with middle-to-late round selections in the NFL Draft.
A few examples: The Patriots picked Tom Brady when Drew Bledsoe was their franchise QB. Dallas picked Dak Prescott in the fourth round with Tony Romo in place. The Patriots grabbed Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round despite no signs of Brady’s decline. Cousins was picked in the fourth only one day after Washington took Robert Griffin III. Seattle picked Russell Wilson shortly after signing Matt Flynn to be their starter.
So there’s a case for the Vikings to do the same in this year’s draft. Of course there has to be prospects worthy of spending a draft asset in order to do so. Let’s have a look at the mid-to-late round QBs who are most intriguing as potential projects…
Jake Fromm, Georgia
Projected round: 2-4
Key stat: 78:18 touchdown-to-interception ratio in three years as a starter
Whether you’re looking at Fromm’s lack of athleticism or arm strength, it’s natural to put a limited ceiling on him but his college production in the SEC and development as an NFL-style game-managing quarterback could make him a worthwhile pick if he falls into the third or fourth round. According to PFF data, Fromm protected the ball brilliantly, ranking fifth best in the nation in 2019 in turnover-worthy plays and he managed the fourth best pressure rate and got rid of the ball quickly at just 2.5 seconds from snap to throw.
Fromm makes sense on some level for the Vikings because his experience and acumen suggests his floor is still likely a quality backup QB — and on a rookie contract, he would be a cheap one at that.
Anthony Gordon, Washington State
Projected round: 3-6
Key stat: 79.8% adjusted completion percentage, fifth in the nation
Few quarterbacks in college football history have ever produced a passing season as prolific as Gordon’s 2019. He threw for the sixth most single-season passing yards in NCAA history (Case Keenum owns the No. 5 and No. 4 seasons, Joe Burrow is third) and showed some impressive translatable skills in the process. For example, he took just 20 sacks on over 700 drop backs, ranked as one of the best in the nation on short throws with a 116.1 rating on passes traveling less than 10 yards. Gordon isn’t a top-notch athlete and he struggled when under pressure but PFF’s comparable for him is Kirk Cousins. Similar to Fromm, there’s a high chance at becoming a quality backup at worst.
Tyler Huntley, Utah
Projected round: 4-7
Key stat: 10.2 yards per pass attempt, only six turnover-worthy plays (per PFF) on 300 attempts
An NFL Combine snub, Huntley was only able to use his Pro Day to show his impressive athleticism. He reportedly ran a 4.56 40-yard dash and measured at 6-foot-1, 207-pounds. Those numbers combined with his 2019 statistics might be enough to draw late-round interest. Huntley had the highest adjusted completion percentage in the nation at 82.6% and excelled on intermediate passes, registering an NFL rating of 121.1 on throws between 11-20 yards, per PFF. His ability to avoid mistakes bodes well for his NFL profile.
Josh Love, San Jose State
Projected round: 4-7
Key stat: Fifth highest PFF grade on intermediate throws, 11th most deep passing yards
The Love who won’t get as much love on draft day from scouts as projected top pick Jordan Love, Josh flashed some intriguing skills for San Jose State last season, registering the 13th most big-time throws in college football and proving to have the accuracy to hit throws in the middle of the field on a consistent basis. Despite playing in an offense that had him throw over 10 yards more often than short passes, he was only sacked 13 times on 494 drop backs and got rid of the ball in 2.33 seconds per PFF data. Love isn’t tall or physically imposing but that could help him stay under the radar.
Cole McDonald, Hawaii
Projected round: 4-7
Key stat: Led college football with nine completions of more than 40 yards
McDonald might be the most fun late-round prospect. He has a monster arm and ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the Combine. While his numbers suffered due to poor performance under pressure, nobody in the class took fewer sacks than McDonald. And if he doesn’t work out at quarterback, his athletic profile gives him a shot at another position.