KOC Makes ‘Structural Changes’ to Vikings Coaching Staff So He Can Focus on Rookie QB

Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings
Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

The most recent media blitz by those inside the Minnesota Vikings organization has been focused on creating an optical illusion of flexibility for the upcoming 2024 NFL Draft. That they do not have to use their No. 11 and No. 23 picks to move into the top-5 for a top quarterback, should the price of admission be too exorbitant.

No matter who they take, though, Kevin O’Connell is is preparing for the new QBs arrival by rearranging his coaching staff in a way that will give the head coach more opportunities to nurture the future face of the Vikings franchise.

Kevin O’Connell has made structural changes to Minnesota Vikings coaching staff

According to Kevin Seifert (ESPN), KOC has made “structural changes” to his coaching staff, in order to make himself more available to aid in the development of whichever quarterback they end up drafting.

O’Connell has already initiated a few structural changes on his coaching staff to give himself more time to develop the quarterback he hopes to draft. And if they can’t find a complicit team to trade with, they will still have the flexibility of the No. 23 overall pick to work with. That’s the world they’re living in, for at least the rest of this month.

Kevin Seifert – ESPN

The point of Seifert’s article — unless he was foreshadowing the Wes Phillips suspension, which was reported later Monday morning — was to try and prove that the Vikings might not trade up. He quotes KOC from last week, talking about needing a ‘complicit’ trade partner in order to move up. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has recently made ‘flexibility’ his new buzz word of choice, trying to prove the same thing.

And sure, it’s POSSIBLE the Vikings refuse to pay whatever hiked up price being charged to get into the top-5. Thus, it’s POSSIBLE they stay put in the middle of the 1st round and make their defense exponentially better with those two picks. Maybe roll with Sam Darnold and trust the KOC can make him into a serviceable starting QB…

Maybe they take a Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), at No. 23 — who they worked out privately over the weekend. That’s what Alec Lewis (The Athletic) mocked in his most recent (2.0) release, which dropped on Tuesday morning. Bo Nix (Oregon) should still be there, too, if KOC prefers his toolkit over Penix’s.

Hint: The Vikings are trading up. Everything else is smoke.

Jayden Daniels, Minnesota Vikings
Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Those outcomes are certainly POSSIBLE. But are they realistic or plausible? I don’t see it. There is a reason why Bo Nix and Penix Jr are seen as borderline day one quarterbacks, compared to Jayden Daniels (LSU), Drake Maye (UNC) and JJ McCarthy (Michigan) are expected to all go in the top-5. They aren’t as good and much less likely to develop into top-10 NFL quarterbacks.

Both Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and Kevin O’Connell’s jobs are riding on this move. That’s why (by rearranging staff duties) he is shifting his own focus from winning games in 2024-25 to developing this new QB. They cannot miss.

Related: Vikings Reportedly Traveled to Seattle for Private Workout with Michael Penix Jr

So, unless KOC sees something in Penix and/or Nix that nobody else really does, it’s difficult for me to see the Minnesota Vikings’ head coach and GM pinning their future on a 2nd or 3rd tier option.

They grabbed pick No. 23 from the Texans to trade it. It’s the only thing that makes sense, no matter what they say now. This is something Matt Miller (ESPN) got into with Alec on Monday (who was sitting in for Paul Allen on KFAN Radio), when Lewis asked if it’s possible the Vikings decide to stay put or move back instead of moving up.

But what if nobody wants to make a deal?

Look, when you’re 3+ weeks away from the draft and smokescreens are weighing as heavy on all the reporting, as what we’ve seen recently, it’s easy to imagine the Patriots (No. 3), Cardinals (No. 4) and Chargers (No. 5) playing hardball with the Vikings.

Those front offices know what we all know: that the Vikings are desperate for a QB. In theory, it makes sense that those teams would charge the Vikings an impossible amount to move up. That’s the scenario that Alec is laying out and one that KOC was warning everyone about at the NFL League meetings.

Related: Justin Fields Reportedly Had Vikings on Short List of Preferred Trade Destinations

But once the draft starts, unless the organizations mentioned above are set on taking a franchise QB — which none of them are, per the most recent reports — they’ll make a deal if the price is good. Because April 25 will not be about how they can screw the Vikings. It’ll be about putting their organization in the best position for success.

As long as Kwesi makes those teams an offer that gives them a better opportunity in the future, than the pick they currently hold, they’ll do the deal and the Vikings will get the QB they covet (probably in the top-5).

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