As the 66th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Kellen Mond was coming into an interesting situation. The quarterback controversy in Minnesota was reaching all time heights after the disastrous 2020 season, and the tension between head coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman was especially potent. Enter an athletic quarterback who drew all kinds of comparisons to top level talent, and a head coach who never wanted him (who’s heard that before with Zimmer), and you have a rather interesting situation. A year later with new management, what’s changed for the former Texas A&M quarterback?
Something to note right away is that Kevin O’Connell was intrigued by the Vikings HC gig partly due to Kirk Cousins as they spent time together in Washington and O’Connell was fond of Cousins’s game. That secured Cousins a spot, and the contract he signed this past spring cemented it. Mond was never meant to be a year 1 or 2 starter anyways, many experts believed he was at least three years of development before being NFL ready. Doesn’t sound great, but you need to remember that adjusting to the NFL as a quarterback from college is immensely difficult. Many, and I mean many, fail at this transition. Minnesota didn’t draft Mond for a year 2 starter, he’s not Mahomes. He was an athletic project that had enough upside to warrant drafting him over many other players in a position with uncertainty. The question is how does the new staff feel about that upside and if it’s of any worth.
O’Connell just came from a system with a gunslinger for a quarterback, and he’s now being given one of the best field general quarterbacks in the game. In terms of matching schemes, Mond is still far and away from being that accurate, surgical pocket passer that can dice apart a defense. He’s got legs, but the current system demands efficiency from the pocket on a consistent basis. Mond’s adjustment to said scheme is still a work in progress which is to be expected. However, it’s important to remember that Mond has talent and this staff will utilize it, but only if it suits them.
As we make our way into training camp, Mond’s shown some growth. A few great passes, including a touchdown pass to Albert Wilson that was expertly thrown. That isn’t to say he isn’t making mistakes, as there have been occasional turnovers among other errors. Those road bumps are to be expected but what we really want to see is Mond improving in consistency and polishing skills. Mond has the talent to be a great quarterback, the problem is he’s still a raw prospect and the best way to work towards improvement is experience. Pre-season is going to be key for Mond in the coming weeks. Hopefully, he’ll show more success with the new system.
Swapping from system to system isn’t great for rookie quarterbacks. Going from the play-action, run, run, pass system to Kevin’s more versatile, pass oriented scheme is going to be an adjustment, but he didn’t necessarily get much attention or help from the previous staff. Zimmer’s neglect of Mond is well documented and notorious for how disrespectful it was for Mond. The last thing you want from your head coach as a rookie quarterback is that level of neglect and disrespect. It was uncalled for, and here’s to hoping that the new staff will treat him with respect.
This current coaching staff is focused on winning with its current starters, i.e Kirk Cousins, meaning Mond is on clipboard duty for another 2 seasons minimum. The question then is if he’s shown enough improvement to warrant an extension. That’s impossible to predict at this point in time, but it’s amiable to think he’s capable of reaching a level of replacing Cousins when his current contract expires. There’s plenty of time for that, and unless Kirk falls off a cliff, he can comfortably sit behind and learn from one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league.
Mond may have been drafted out of spite, as at that point Rick and Zimmer were at odds every other moment of the season. Now though, this draft choice is on the roster and has a giant question mark painted on his back. In my opinion, I hope he improves and reaches his potential as a dual threat QB with a great arm and bold instincts. If Bruce Arians taught us anything, it’s that no risk it, no biscuit. It may be a pipe dream, and it all depends on the attention he gets from the staff, but here’s hoping the QB for the future is already on the roster.