Vikings Turn Shoulder to Top QB Prospect Who Met With Patriots

An NFL Media report from Ian Rapoport grouped the Minnesota Vikings with five other teams that scheduled meetings with LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels immediately after his pro day on Wednesday, March 27.

However, the Vikings’ meeting with Daniels did not happen, according to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson.

“I am told that meeting did not take place,” Wolfson said on SKOR North’s “Mackey and Judd” podcast on March 28. Wolfson posed that there could have been a scheduling conflict.

Quarterback coach Josh McCown, the most prominent Vikings staffer in attendance at LSU’s pro day, arrived in North Carolina to watch Drake Maye on Thursday, Mike Kaye of The Charlotte Observer reported. McCown’s travel plans to be in Chapel Hill on Thursday may have not aligned with Daniels’ availability.

Head coach Kevin O’Connell said on KFAN radio that he will spend several days with Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy this week as part of the “private meeting” the Vikings scheduled with McCarthy after his pro day last week.

However, as the Vikings are moving their evaluators elsewhere around the country, Daniels confirmed that he would meet with the New England Patriots on Wednesday night after his pro day, Patriots team reporter Evan Lazar reported.

The Patriots, who hold the No. 3 pick in the draft, are a prime trade-up partner but could also stay put and select a quarterback in this year’s draft.

Daniels could have a private visit with the Vikings in Baton Rouge in the coming weeks, but for now, there appears to be a missed connection with the LSU quarterback.

Vikings Coach Kevin O’Connell Makes Telling Comment on Jayden Daniels

Raiders potential draft target Jayden Daniels

O’Connell has covered his tracks when speaking on this year’s quarterback class to not signal any more interest in one prospect over another.

However, when addressing the biggest slight on Daniels of whether he could thrive as a pocket passer in the NFL, O’Connell believed that Daniels is well beyond a first-read and run talent at quarterback.

“When you really dive into his tape, that’s one of the exciting things about a player like Jayden Daniels. … A lot of times his best, most impactful plays running the football come as an extension of passing plays where he’s gone through a progression. He’s exhausted one to two to three and then, with really good technique and fundamentals ball security, able to climb up and out of the pocket,” O’Connell said on #92Noon! with KFAN’s Paul Allen. “When he takes off from that point, there’s really no angle that’s safe for a defender because of the speed that he has in the open field.”

O’Connell added that Daniels, leaner than most NFL quarterbacks at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, will have to be careful at the next level to avoid injury.

“Clearly, he’s going to have to be smart about when he has the football in his hands — not being the biggest strongest guy in the world — he’s going to have to be smart about it. He’s proven that in his Heisman Trophy season that he’s got the ability to do that. Definitely an exciting, exciting prospect,” O’Connell said.

Inside Vikings Private Meetings With QB Prospects

While O’Connell’s absence at pro days has made some headlines in the pre-draft media circuit, the Vikings coach has put more value into private meetings.

Instead of accepting the script this year’s quarterback prospects work through at their pro days, O’Connell is looking to take them through what they could encounter in his system.

“During an interview session with Twin Cities reporters at the owners’ meetings on Monday, O’Connell laid out something of a manifesto for how the Vikings will build their quarterback position after Kirk Cousins’ departure,” Star Tribune beat reporter Ben Goessling wrote on March 26. “They will prioritize private meetings — where they can walk a possible draft pick through their offense and immediately ask him to perform elements of it on the field — over pro days where they don’t control the script. They will use on-field mistakes to see how a QB responds to coaching, and observe a player’s interactions during on-campus lunches to gauge how he handles the spotlight inherent to the position.”

Beyond the on-field evaluation, O’Connell is also trying to gauge the type of person each quarterback is given they will be thrust into a leadership role not only in the locker room but also in the community.

“I want to see how they interact with folks,” O’Connell told local beat reporters, per Goessling. “Because building-changing quarterbacks, they don’t just change the facilities. Any room they ever walk into, they light it up. They change it, they impact it and I think you can see that on display in an authentic way when you do the full process with those trips.”

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