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Kellen Mond Will Be Just Fine at QB2

Kellen Mond Will Be Just Fine at QB2

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Rookie Kellen Mond received a lot of scrutiny over the course of this past preseason. Vikings fans have found themselves terrified at the prospect of Mond serving as QB2 behind Kirk Cousins, and this is fear has come from two reasons: 

 

  1. Mond struggled during his preseason playing time 
  2. Cousins has been quite open about his refusal to get the COVID vaccine

 

This fear was only emphasized after the recent trade of Gardner Minshew to Philadelphia. In return, the Jaguars received a measly sixth-round draft pick. This is a trade that Minnesota could have easily made, and one that I had been calling for since January. However, that was in the dreary depths of winter when the Vikings didn’t have their third-round draft selection. Today in the pleasant present times of summer, I’m going to argue that this fear of QB2 Mond is irrational. 

 

Vikings QBs and COVID

 

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Before we even get into the meat of this article, I can dispel, oh, maybe 85% of fears involving a situation where Cousins misses time due to a positive COVID test, and Mond has to step in as the starter. Lost in the headlines of Cousins saying he’ll put plexiglass around his seat on the bench is the simple fact that, like the Vikings QB1, Mond is not vaccinated for COVID-19. 

 

Ultimately, if Cousins were to test positive for COVID and miss time due to protocols, there’s a pretty good chance that Mond would have to sit out as well. The only real chance of Mond playing instead of Cousins would be if Cousins got hurt. Given Captain Kirk’s ability to stay on the field, I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about that right now. More than likely, Mond will not see the field in 2021.

 

Mond’s Preseason

 

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There’s this notion going around Vikings fandom that Kellen Mond did not play to a high enough standard in this preseason. To that I say, what exactly did you expect from a raw, project rookie QB? Let’s go game-by-game to sort this out. 

 

First of all, this isn’t just a raw, project rookie QB. This is a raw, project rookie QB that missed 10 days of training camp recovering from a global pandemic. Any expectations should have been significantly lowered just after that. 

 

Sure, week one against Denver wasn’t very good. I don’t think anyone in that situation would have been very good, but then to also add that Mond wasn’t expected to play at all in this game just further exacerbates the situation. Oh, he also had to play the Denver Broncos, who are expected to be one of the better defensive teams in the league this year. The cards were stacked against him. 

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Week two should’ve been better than it was, though. I’ll concede that it was a poor performance where Mond just never seemed to find a rhythm, nor was he even able to use his legs to his advantage. He should have played better after a full week of practice and full preparation for the game. 

 

However, I think week three is where we finally got glimpses of what this rookie can be for the Vikings. He was honestly sensational against the Chiefs, and if it weren’t for a fumbled ball while being sacked, I don’t know how much better it could have been. He led three lucrative drives—two of which ended in touchdowns—and converted a two-point conversion through the air. 

 

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On top of that, he added 40 yards on the ground. There were a couple questionable throws, including an interception that was definitely more on TE Zach Davidson than Mond, but there was a hell of a lot more good than bad. 

 

Mond Is Not an Outlier

 

Instead of tossing Mond out the window before he plays any meaningful snaps, I think this is an important thing to remember. Throughout the league, every rookie had their struggles in the preseason; it’s not unique to the Vikings backup QB. Even first overall pick, Trevor Lawrence, did not make the game look easy on every snap. Here is how Lawrence’s first six drives of the preseason ended:

 

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Punt

Turnover on downs

Punt

Punt

Punt

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Punt

 

Those aren’t exactly lucrative drives, but even so, the Jaguars traded Minshew Mania to the Eagles this weekend. Of course, part of that decision has to do with the outcome of Lawrence’s final five drives: 

 

Field goal

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Missed field goal

Touchdown

Punt

Touchdown

 

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Obviously, Lawrence is more talented than he displayed at the beginning of the preseason. Likewise, Mond is more talented than what he showed at the beginning of his preseason. A comparison of a third-round pick to a first overall pick isn’t even fair though. Luckily, there is a perfect comparison. If you remember, the pick before Minnesota selected Mond, the Houston Texans selected QB Davis Mills. Since that is the case, let’s take a look at a side-by-side comparison of these two QBs’ weekly performances. 

 

Week One 

Davis Mills @ GB: 11/22, 112 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

Kellen Mond vs DEN: 6/16, 53 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs

 

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Week Two

Davis Mills @ DAL: 10/16, 115 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs

Kellen Mond vs IND: 6/12, 61 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs

 

Week Three

Davis Mills vs TB: 10/27, 106 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs

Kellen Mond @ KC: 16/23, 196 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

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Totals:

Davis Mills: 31/65, 333 yards, 2 TDs, 4 INTs

Kellen Mond: 28/51, 310 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT

 

Dare I say, Mond had a better three games than Mills on the stat sheet? Then if you consider the fact that Mond showed much more prowess as a runner, and that he should have had at least one TD pass (fourth and goal drop by Philyor in week one), it’s not all that close. 

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Final Thoughts

This article is not meant to say that Mond should be thrown into the starting lineup against Cincinnati. He’s not to that point yet, but at the same time, we shouldn’t freak out that he isn’t. This was to be expected; a Day Two draft pick spent on a QB is almost always meant as a long-term solution. 

 

That said, despite some struggles early in the preseason, Vikings fans should be excited about the QB that they have. Mond flashed signs of exceptional pocket presence, accurate passes downfield, and a knack for scrambling out of broken down plays. This is the recipe for a winning QB down the road; let’s take a breath and let him get to that point. Even if Mond did have to step in at some point later this season, I’m confident he can keep the Vikings afloat.

Finally, let’s not forget that this is the same Minnesota Vikings team that employed Sean Mannion as their backup QB last year. At the very least, Mond has already proven that his talent far exceeds that ceiling, so if nothing else, thee Vikings are in a much better spot now than they were in 2020.

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