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Matt Miller has the Vikings taking a quarterback, but not right away

A two-round mock for the purple

2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington Photo by CFP/Getty Images

The Senior Bowl is in the books for 2024, and that means it’s officially Mock Draft season. We’ll be doing our annual Mock Draft Database starting after the Scouting Combine, as we always do, but we’ll be looking at some of the various mocks around the internet to see what they’re projecting the Minnesota Vikings to do at this year’s selection meeting.

Behind the great E$PN paywall, longtime NFL scout Matt Miller has a two-round, post-Senior Bowl mock for everyone to check out. In this one, a mock without trade ups, the consensus top three quarterbacks are gone in the first three picks, so the Vikings decide to address the defensive side of the ball with Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner.

The Vikings are at a crossroads with quarterback Kirk Cousins hitting free agency at 36 years old and coming off an Achilles tear suffered in Week 8. Could they pull the trigger on Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, Oregon’s Bo Nix or Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.? Yes, but there are needs across the board. Danielle Hunter is a free agent, and Turner would perfectly fit D-coordinator Brian Flores’ defensive wish list at edge rusher.

Turner had 10 sacks in his breakout 2023 season, and one NFC area scout thinks his ceiling is higher than former college teammate Will Anderson Jr., who went No. 3 in last year’s draft. Turner has excellent speed in space with a pro player comparison to the Jaguars’ Josh Allen. He’s my top-ranked defender in the class and would be a steal this late in the night.

A player like Turner makes sense for the Vikings, particularly if Hunter moves on as Miller suggests he might. Even if Hunter stays, pairing him with someone like Turner would be a significant help to the Vikings’ pass rush.

It’s in Round 2 that Miller has the Vikings addressing the quarterback position with the selection of Michael Penix Jr. from Washington.

Penix’s draft stock varies depending on who you ask, but the most consistent answer I’ve heard is the second round, given the four season-ending injuries he suffered at Indiana (two knee injuries, two shoulder injuries). Penix has excellent arm strength and velocity, and as a pure passer, he’s a first-rounder. He threw for nearly 5,000 yards in 2023 and helped lead Washington to the national title game. But those injury and durability questions push him to the Vikings.

It’s great news for Minnesota, where Kirk Cousins is set to become a 35-year-old free agent coming off an Achilles injury. Penix can be the quarterback-in-waiting if Cousins is re-signed, or the immediate starter if he is not.

It’s worth noting that the two other quarterbacks that Penix is competing with to be the fourth QB off the board, Bo Nix of Oregon and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, went at #12 and #13 in Miller’s mock, and there aren’t any other quarterbacks taken before Penix goes off the board to Minnesota.

People seemed to be really high on Penix after the national semifinals when he led Washington past Texas, and then dropped significantly after the loss to Michigan in the National Championship Game. It’s tough to argue with the level of production that Penix has had, but the injury bug is definitely a concern. I’m not sure how much of a concern, but it’s definitely something the team will consider.

I’m sure there will be a bunch of other mock drafts with different perspectives for us to talk about over the course of the next couple of months, so we’ll be bringing a lot of them to you here for your discussion pleasure.