The Vikings Are Getting Caught In the NFL Draft Silly Season Vortex - Zone Coverage (2024)

The New York Jets hired Mike Tannenbaum in 1997. He worked his way up from crafting player contracts to player development to assistant general manager before taking over as GM in 2006. Tannenbaum oversaw the Jets’ most recent playoff run in 2010, their second run to the AFC Championship in as many years. The Jets fired him in 2012 and haven’t returned to the playoffs since.

Tannenbaum cut Kevin O’Connell, then a depth quarterback, on Hard Knocksin 2010. That was the season where Antonio Cromartie couldn’t remember his kids’ names, and players were running around with Shake Weights. Tannenbaum built the last good Jets teams, but he cut O’Connell in a pretty awkward way. He tells O’Connell he is going to cut him before O’Connell can sit down and is brutally honest with him to an extent that almost felt overbearing.

O’Connell took it in stride. He thanked Tannenbaum for the opportunity and said that he liked New York’s quarterbacks and coaches. O’Connell still has a voicemail from Rex Ryan after Ryan cut him for the second time. O’Connell has repeatedly discussed Bill Belichick’s influence on him, and Belichick cut O’Connell a year after drafting him. KOC has already beaten the five teams that gave up on him as a quarterback, and he never mentioned it, even in jest.

Tannenbaum is an ESPN commentator now, and his most recent mock draft is out. He has Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels going 1-2-3, but things get crazy at No. 4. Tannenbaum predicts the Arizona Cardinals grabbing J.J. McCarthy with the fourth-overall pick and Arizona trading Kyler Murray to Minnesota for the 11th- and 66th-overall picks.

“I drafted J.J. McCarthy at No. 4 to take over under center for Arizona, so Murray becomes a trade candidate,” Tannenbaum wrote. “Minnesota is still searching for QB answers after missing out on the top four passers in the class. I don’t love the scheme fit for Oregon’s Bo Nix in Minnesota, and it’s too early for Washington’s Michael Penix Jr.

“From the Vikings’ standpoint, everything I said earlier about Murray’s durability still matters,” he continues, “but he’s cheaper and younger than Kirk Cousins would have been to re-sign and gives them a chance to compete this season rather than rebuild.”

Tannenbaum goes against consensus after the first three picks in his mock draft. He has Marvin Harrison Jr., who many people believe Arizona will take fourth overall, falling to Chicago at No. 9. Tannenbaum is a former executive who knows how to evaluate players and what GMs are thinking this time of year. Still, it feels more like a simulation of the chaos of draft night than a logical breakdown of who should draft which player.

Someone always does something insane on draft night, but O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah must keep it together. They can’t emulate Pete Carroll, who would take third-round players on Day 1. Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell are in the third year of their four-year deals and must draft the right quarterback. Their futures depend on finding Kirk Cousins’ replacement.

Do Adofo-Mensah and O’Connell want to stake their jobs on a player who is getting double-XP on Call of Dutyinstead of crunching film before heading to Lambeau? Remember when some people freaked out when Cousins said he took Tuesdays off to spend time with his family in Netflix’s Quarterback docuseries? Nobody is going to be cool with Murray going 10/24 in Chicago after finishing the weekend with a 2:1 kill-to-death ratio in his video game of choice.

It’s healthy for players to have a good work-life balance, but Murray doesn’t seem to prioritize football. He has a 28-36-1 record and is on a five-year, $230.5 million contract. He went 19/34 for 137 yards and threw one of the ugliest pick-sixes you’ll ever see in his lone playoff appearance. Cousins at least has the win in New Orleans. Murray, who will be 27 when the season starts, is younger and on a more affordable deal than the $180 million contract the Atlanta Falcons handed Cousins. But he’s unlikely to have more success than Cousins had in Minnesota.

The Vikings must do everything possible to move into the top three and get their franchise quarterback. If New England won’t move off its pick, Minnesota must have a Plan B that involves developing a QB they feel the league is overlooking. Murray isn’t the answer. O’Connell likely still respects Tannenbaum, even though he cut him. But if he was watching the ESPN segment where Tannenbaum was promoting his latest mock draft, hopefully he shut off his TV.

Tom Schreier

The Vikings Are Getting Caught In the NFL Draft Silly Season Vortex - Zone Coverage (1)

Tom Schreier is the founder and proprietor of Zone Coverage. He created Zone Coverage with the goal of mixing new age media with old-school journalism. His goal was to create an economically sustainable platform for sports content for Minnesota fans. Before Zone Coverage, Tom wrote for Bleacher Report and Yahoo! Sports before joining 105 The Ticket in 2014.

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The Vikings Are Getting Caught In the NFL Draft Silly Season Vortex - Zone Coverage (2024)


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