What is Kevin O’Connell Looking for When Evaluating Vikings Next Franchise QB?

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The Minnesota Vikings are looking for their quarterback of the future in the 2024 NFL Draft. We don’t know if they will keep Kirk Cousins in the interim, or how long “interim” might be. And we don’t even know if they will for sure draft a QB on day one.

Related: Beat Reporter Predicts Vikings Add 1st Round Pick in 2024 NFL Draft; Take QB of the Future

But there’s no doubt general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell are very seriously hunting for the Vikings’ next franchise QB, come April 25. As long as they identify and successfully target someone, the expectations is they’ll pull the trigger.

Now, in most personnel decisions, O’Connell is nothing more than a very heavy influencer on Minnesota Vikings roster decisions. Kwesi is the main decision maker, in that department. But not at the quarterback position. The belief is that KOC will hand-pick the organization’s next QB. It’s a big part of why he was hired.

What is Kevin O’Connell looking for in Minnesota Vikings next QB?

So… what is the Vikings’ head coach looking for while evaluating arm talent this spring? Let’s ask him. O’Connell did an interview on the Colin Cowherd Show a couple of years ago and he was asked what separates elite-caliber quarterbacks from those who are just mediocre or the guys who may get drafted high, but fizzle out.

According to KOC, there are two things that a QB has to possess, in order to have an elite ceiling. he looks for, one more well known than the other, that set really good quarterbacks apart from those that hold clipboards on the sideline for most of their professional careers (still not a bad gig if you can get it). They have to be (a) “naturally accurate, wake up out of bed in the morning and be able to throw the rock” and (b) have elite “big field vision”.

“The standard, because I’ve gone back and forth over through the years. But deep down inside, what plagued me the most as a player, was I was not naturally accurate enough throwing the football. Take arm strength, take some of the other traits we talk a lot about, fundamentals and techniques, how you deliver the football, rhythm and timing, your ability to be twitchy and speed it up when you have to… those are all great things. But when that rock leaves your hand, when you throw that football you have to be in control of it, at this level, and be able to put it where you want it and be able to do it in different rhythms and timings and anticipations…”

Kevin O’Connell – 2022 Interview with Colin Cowherd

Obviously, being accurate is a big deal, when it comes to being a good quarterback. But in the NFL, it goes to another level. You can’t just ‘see open receiver, hit open receiver’. The schemes are too good and defenders too talented.

Related: Patrick Reusse, Michael Rand Beg for Vikings to Ditch “Anti-Vaxxer” QB Kirk Cousins

The good NFL quarterbacks anticipate so well and they are so accurate that they see vacant windows of opportunity before they are there and they throw the ball into physical windows that are so precise and so small that they literally move receivers into open areas around them or into better positions to take on hits from defenders. That’s the type of accuracy that can’t be taught and the kind O’Connell says he was never gifted with.

KOC also looking for ‘big field’ vision

But the more underappreciated trait that KOC is looking for when he evaluates QBs is their “big field” vision, as he calls it. In other words, are their peripherals good enough to see receivers who aren’t in their direct line of sight? If so, does their brain process that information in a way that allows them to change their course of action fast enough? Can he sense pass rushers around him, while also feeling and manipulating the leverage of defenders in coverage?

“That’s where it leads me to the most underrated quality, that I think not a lot of people talk about and that’s big field vision. Being able to see — and it’s not always the tall guys because I was 6-5 and a lot of times I couldn’t see anything… umm, I am 6-5, I probably shouldn’t say ‘was’, even though I’m probably shrinking with all this stress.

But I’ll tell you this much, if guys can see and they can feel voids and vacancies and leverages and techniques, you know, and he’s accurate… guess what, we’re gonna be able to get the ball out and rhythm a lot. The pass rush may be humming but they’re not gonna get home in time, if you can anticipate and feel and see.”

Kevin O’Connell – 2022 Interview with Colin Cowherd

For those who do a lot of NFL Draft study, and believe they know whether or not each draft-eligible QB has the types of traits KOC is looking for, this video might help them narrow the list of passers they believe the Minnesota Vikings will be interested in, come April.

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