Kellen Mond

NFC North Notes: Vikings Front Office Hire, Hundley, Jones, Alexander

New Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah made a noteworthy addition to his staff earlier this week. The team announced the hiring of Demitrius Washington as their new vice president of football operations.

Washington had spent seven years with the 49ers, a stretch which overlapped with Adofo-Mensah’s time in that organization. For the past two seasons, Washington served as San Francisco’s director of research and development, the same title Adofo-Mensah held with the Browns prior to his hire. The pair will now reunite and, along with new head coach Kevin O’Connell, oversee the franchise’s transition from the previous Rick Spielman-Mike Zimmer regime.

Here are some other notes from around the NFC North, starting with one more from Minnesota:

  • The Vikings brought in veteran backup quarterback Brett Hundley as a tryout during rookie minicamp, but they made it clear they would not be signing him, as noted by Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. The 28-year-old hasn’t made a regular season appearance since 2019, most recently spending time with the Colts. Minnesota’s QB room currently consists of Kirk Cousins, Kellen Mond, Sean Mannion and Nate Stanley.
  • The Bears used one of their 11 picks in last month’s draft to add to its receiving corps, selecting Velus Jones in the third round. The team is high on his speed and versatility, leading to the new coaching staff having “big plans” for the 25-year-old. “Let’s start out at receiver and then let’s see what he can do, moving him around to different spots and getting him the ball, because he is an explosive athlete” head coach Matt Eberflus said, via ESPN’s Courtney Cronin. After transferring from USC to Tennessee, Jones produced both on offense and special teams, recording 807 receiving yards and leading the SEC in both punt and kick return yardage in 2021.
  • An interesting note came out in the aftermath of Jaire Alexander‘s record-breaking extension with the Packers. USA Today’s Josina Anderson reports (on Twitter) that the Pro Bowler specifically wanted a four-year (rather than five-year) deal. He got just that, helping him to break the record briefly held by Denzel Ward for the highest annual average amongst cornerbacks at $21MM per season, and keeping him under contract through 2026.

Kirk Cousins Will Miss Game This Week On COVID List

According to a tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Vikings’ quarterback Kirk Cousins has tested positive for COVID, moving him to the COVID-19/reserve list and ruling him out for this weekend’s matchup in Green Bay. Tom Pelissero, of NFL Network, was told that Cousins experienced symptoms, self-reported, and test positive (Twitter). Because Cousins is symptomatic, he is not affected by the new rule change shortening the isolation requirements for players who test positive but prove to be asymptomatic. The rule change will make it easier for Cousins to return to the facility once his symptoms subside, though.

Backup quarterback Sean Mannion was on the COVID-19/reserve list after testing positive on Sunday. The remaining quarterbacks on the roster are Kyle Sloter and the rookie out of Texas A&M, Kellen Mond.

Neither quarterback has seen playing time in the NFL. Kellen Mond was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft and has been sitting on the active roster as a reserve. Kyle Sloter went undrafted in 2017 and was signed by the Denver Broncos. In the preseason, Sloter impressed completing 31 of 43 pass attempts for 413 yards while throwing 3 touchdowns and no picks. His passer rating of 125.4 in the preseason led a rookie class that included Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes, and Deshaun Watson. Sloter was nonetheless cut before the season started and has since bounced around on multiple NFL practice squads. He spent the tail-end of the 2019 NFL season on Detroit’s active roster, but never saw a down of football. Sloter was signed to the Vikings’ active roster only three days ago, when Mannion was placed on the COVID list.

The silver lining for the Vikings comes from a tweet by ESPN’s Minnesota Vikings’ Reporter, Courtney Cronin, who is expecting Mannion to be activated off of the reserve/COVID-19 list today and start this weekend with Mond backing him up. This was confirmed by NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport as the move was made official.

Vikings Not Ruling Out QB Addition

The Vikings have taken a different path at quarterback this year, slotting inexperienced passers behind starter Kirk Cousins. Third-round rookie Kellen Mond and practice squad veteran Jake Browning are competing to be Minnesota’s backup. Thus far, the results have not impressed.

While Minnesota also has 2020 seventh-round pick Nate Stanley and well-traveled former UDFA Danny Etling on the roster, Mond and Browning appear to be vying for the gig. Following the team’s second preseason game, Mike Zimmer described his QB2 situation as a work in progress said the team will discuss bringing in an outside option this week, via the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson.

Mond, who missed time due to a COVID-19 contraction earlier in camp, has not progressed to the point he can be relied upon as a backup, per Tomasson. Browning, Stanley and Etling have also not taken any NFL regular-season snaps. Browning has spent the past two seasons on the Vikings’ practice squad. The Vikes did not re-sign two-year backup Sean Mannion, and their hopes of trading up for Justin Fields did not produce the desired result. Although Cousins has proven durable (zero missed games due to injury), the team may be vulnerable if its starter suffers an injury or lands on the reserve/COVID-19 list again.

Under Zimmer, the Vikings have used several veterans as backups. Matt Cassel, Shaun Hill, Case Keenum, Trevor Siemian and Mannion have been in these roles at various points over the past seven seasons. The Vikings’ 2017 Keenum addition proved rather important, with Sam Bradford going down early and Keenum delivering by far the best season of his career to steer the team to the NFC championship game.

Zimmer cited a need to be careful financially, despite the team holding more than $13MM in cap space and a QB2 signing unlikely to cost much at this point. Available options include Blake Bortles, new ESPN analyst Robert Griffin III and Josh Rosen. The latter, however, has not been viewed by his past two teams as a backup-caliber passer. Minnesota could look to the trade market as well. With Falcons backup A.J. McCarron going down with an ACL tear and the Jets also having no experience behind their starter, there figures to be competition on the trade front.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/10/21

Here are Tuesday’s minor moves, with the list being updated throughout the day:

Arizona Cardinals

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

  • Waived: FB Mikey Daniel

Chicago Bears

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Released from IR via injury settlement: G Anthony Coyle

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Vikings Sign Third-Round QB Kellen Mond

Kellen Mond signed his rookie contract Tuesday, locking him in through the 2024 season. The third-rounder’s status as Kirk Cousins‘ heir apparent is not yet known, but the Vikings will have time to find out.

Minnesota selected Mond with the second pick in the third round (66th overall), doing so one spot ahead of the Texans. Houston is believed to have sought Mond at No. 67, but the Texas A&M alum will end up leaving the Lone Star State to serve as Cousins’ backup/potential successor.

Mond marks the first QB the Vikings have brought in who could double as a Cousins competitor. The team has previously stationed true QB2s — Trevor Siemian, Sean Mannion — behind its well-paid starter; Mond represents a deviation from that strategy. Cousins is just 32 and has put up nice stats with the Vikings, but the franchise entered the draft with a goal of acquiring a younger passer. After the Vikes’ Justin Fields pursuit proved unsatisfactory, they set their sights on Mond a day later.

A three-year Aggies starter, Mond finished his career with a 71-27 TD-INT ratio despite facing perennially tough schedules in the SEC. Third-round QBs’ success rate commandeering starting jobs is low, giving Cousins a bit of security for the time being. Minnesota’s incumbent passer is signed through 2022 and has a whopping $45MM cap number next season. Mond’s development may well determine if Cousins receives a third contract offer from the Vikings.

Texans Wanted Kellen Mond At No. 67?

The Texans just drafted Davis Mills in the third-round, giving them some quarterback insurance as they wait for the Deshaun Watson saga to play out.

Tyrod Taylor is also on the roster, but if Watson ends up traded or suspended it seems like there’s a good chance the rookie from Stanford makes some starts. New head coach David Culley recently raved about Mills, but as it turns out it sounds like the Texans originally had their eye on a different signal-caller. Houston was planning to take Texas A&M passer Kellen Mond at 67 before the Vikings nabbed him at 66, Mond’s father Kevin told Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

(There was a) phone call from his agent, text message, and the agent said, ‘Hey, the Houston Texans are getting ready to select (Mond) at pick 67,’” the elder Mond said. “It wasn’t supposed to be Mills,” he added. “It was going to be Kellen.”

Getting drafted by the Texans would’ve meant staying in his home state, but Kevin said that Kellen is happy to be headed to Minnesota.

Mond might’ve had a better path to immediate playing time in Houston, but going to the Vikings might prove to be better long-term. He’ll start his pro career behind Kirk Cousins, but if the Vikings elect to move on from Cousins after this season he’ll definitely be in the mix as a potential successor.

Vikings Draft QB Kellen Mond At No. 66

In the middle of a run of Day 2 quarterback picks, the Vikings entered the fray. They are taking Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond at No. 66.

Two picks after Kyle Trask went to the Buccaneers, Mond will join a Vikings team that also has an established quarterback. The multiyear Aggies starter will step in behind Kirk Cousins.

The Vikings have not yet re-signed Sean Mannion, who has worked as Cousins’ backup for the past two seasons. While they could opt to add a veteran to serve as their backup quarterback while Mond learns, the rookie as of now has a ticket to QB2 status.

Mond started for the past three seasons at the SEC school and loomed alongside Trask as the top quarterbacks available after the much-hyped top five. The seasoned passer finished his career with a 71-27 TD-INT ratio, facing perennially tough schedules.

While the Vikings re-signed Cousins, their fourth-year starter’s contract only runs through 2022. The Vikings can shed that contract without incurring any dead-money charges next year.

Draft Notes: Mond, Offensive Run, Bengals

Here are the latest draft rumblings from around the league with the big event less than a week away:

  • We’ve heard endlessly about the top passers in this draft, but there’s an interesting group of second-tier guys as well. One of those second-tier guys is Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, who apparently has a real shot to go earlier than most think. Several people have told Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter video link) that if any of the second-tier quarterbacks are going to be “the shocking first-round pick,” it could be Mond. The four-year SEC starter is currently expected to go off the board sometime on Day 2, but Pelissero notes there are a lot of things scouts love about him. This will be something to keep an eye on this week.
  • An interesting general draft note here. Obviously there’s going to be an early run on quarterbacks, but the drafting of offensive players isn’t going to stop there. There are a number of pass-catchers and O-linemen who could go off the board very early. In fact, there’s a scenario that could “definitely happen,” where each of the first ten guys drafted on Thursday are offensive players, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets. Rapsheet says “plenty of teams” picking in the teens and 20s “have been buzzing about how many offensive guys will go early.” It would be the first time in draft history that no defensive player was taken in the top ten, Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network tweets.
  • The Bengals have made upgrading Joe Burrow‘s protection a priority this offseason, understandably so after he tore his ACL during his rookie campaign. They signed tackle Riley Reiff in free agency, and are expected to add help in the draft. Although they had been linked to Oregon tackle Penei Sewell early on, it looks like that help might not come in the first-round after all. There’s a “growing belief that the team is moving toward selecting LSU wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Dragon of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes (subscription required). Dragon notes Bengals exec Duke Tobin said the team would add offensive line help “at some point” in the draft. He writes that the team’s front office thinks this “draft possesses a rich crop of offensive linemen,” and that the organization thinks there will be “starting-caliber offensive linemen available in the second and even third round.”