Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman used a draft pick on a quarterback for the second consecutive year. This year’s signal-caller, however, could provide a glimpse into the future under center for an underachieving roster hanging on the fringe of success and an inherent rebuild if goals aren’t met.
With current starter Kirk Cousins on the books for a staggering $31 million in 2021 and a historic $45 million in 2022, Kellen Mond’s selection (at No. 66 overall in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft) adds more than just wood to the fire after the team took former Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley on Day 3 of the 2020 draft.
“You’re looking at over $50 million after 2022,” NFL legend Joe Theismann said to reporters on Monday. “I mean, it borders on absurd.”
Absurd is a nice way to put it. It’s outrageous, especially considering the lackluster play of Cousins in two of the last three seasons; granted, Cousins’ numbers aren’t anything to scoff at, as he totaled a career-high in passing touchdowns (35) last year, and since 2019, he’s tied with Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson with the most second-half touchdowns (37). But Cousins’ inability to produce in the clutch and lead the Vikings upstream through uncharted waters has led us to this point.
Mond enters the fold as a four-year starter at Texas A&M on the heels of his most productive season. He’s everything Cousins isn’t, which presents an entirely new dynamic when turning the page towards the future in Minnesota, especially with Spielman’s selection of offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw in the first round (at No. 23 overall). Mond is mobile, has a bazooka on his shoulder, and touts nearly 50 games of SEC experience as he heads into his first camp.
Mond’s interest sky-rocketed for Vikings brass in Mobile, Alabama, where his skill set shone brightest on the largest all-star game stage: the Reese’s Senior Bowl. The Vikings spent ample time with Mond in January, where he was named MVP of the game. Mond, the former No. 1 dual-threat quarterback recruit in the county in 2017, possesses an entirely different skill set than Cousins, traits that piqued the Vikings' interest in creating competition, and, furthermore, his selection.
“Just being able to learn from Kirk Cousins, it's going to be amazing,” Mond said. “Obviously, I've never played in the NFL so I think going in and being able to grab some information from a guy who has played with different teams and has played against the best guys in the whole entire world, I think that's going to be huge for me and just for him to kind of be a mentor and learn from him, I think it's going to be amazing for me.”
Mond’s transition period, however, may be smoother than any in the class, considering the schemes he led during his tenure in College Station, Texas. Mond, under former Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin, anchored the infamous Air-Raid offense his freshman campaign to the tune of 1,300 yards in 10 games. The numbers weren’t anything to gawk at, but it set the tone for one of the most accomplished careers in Texas A&M’s illustrious history. He finished his career as the program’s all-time leader in passing yards (9,661), passing touchdowns (71), and total offense (11,269). Additionally, his 93 touchdowns are tied with former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel for the most in school history. As Mond’s career progressed, so did his play on the field. In his first season leading Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style offense, Mond excelled totaling 3,107 passing yards and 24 touchdowns; both were career-highs in just his sophomore season. Although those numbers were never met again his following two seasons on campus, his leadership, experience, and projection as a pro rival the top gun-slingers in the class.
“I know with all our boot-action and play-action passes that a quarterback with some mobility that can move and make plays outside the pocket is something we wanted to look at,” Spielman said. “He has a little different skill-set than Kirk, but I know just talking with our offensive coaches that we feel that the mobility part of things may add some value to him as a quarterback and to this system.”
For Cousins, his cosmic contract is a ticking time bomb set to detonate if he fails to lead Minnesota back to the postseason. With weapons aplenty and Mond sitting ready in the wings, the dynamic under center in Minnesota just became that much more intriguing.