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Future QB: Vikings pick Texas A&M's Kellen Mond in 3rd round

By DAVE CAMPBELL AP Pro Football Writer

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings drafted Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond with the 66th overall pick on Friday night, targeting a potential successor to Kirk Cousins with their first of four third-rounders.

North Carolina linebacker Chazz Surratt came next at No. 78 overall. Then they checked boxes at positions of the most glaring needs, with Ohio State guard Wyatt Davis (No. 86) and Pittsburgh defensive end Patrick Jones II (No. 90).

Mond was the No. 66 overall pick, the seventh quarterback off the board — after five went in the first 15 selections. Florida’s Kyle Trask went two spots ahead of Mond, who was a four-year starter for the Aggies and has the ability to be the type of dual-threat player that’s all the rage now for his position in the NFL.

Cousins is under contract for two more years and $66 million guaranteed, so there’s time for him to develop. There’s rarely a downside to that, and one of the dings against Mond during his career in the gauntlet of competition that is the SEC was that he was inconsistent.

“If you look at it literally, I think everyone to a certain extent is inconsistent. It’s just about reducing that inconsistency,” Mond said on a video conference call with reporters. “But I’m a guy who loves to learn, and I’m sure Kirk is going to have so many different tips and tools that he’s learned from being in the league.”

The Vikings entered the draft without a second-round pick, due to the trade with Jacksonville that fetched defensive end Yannick Ngakoue near the end of training camp. They flipped him after six games to Baltimore but got only a late third-rounder (No. 90 overall) to cover their losses.

General manager Rick Spielman stayed true to form, though, moving down nine spots in the first round to net two additional third-round picks (Nos. 66 and 86) in a swap with the New York Jets. Their own selection (No. 78) gave them yet another asset to try to jump up into the second round for a higher-rated prospect, but they didn’t bite and found their quarterback of the future anyway.

Mond, the MVP award winner of the Senior Bowl after leading Texas A&M to a 9-1 finish in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, is the highest-drafted quarterback by the Vikings since Christian Ponder was their first-round pick in 2011.

The Vikings addressed one of their most pressing matters in the first round after the trade with the Jets by picking Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, who will slide in at left tackle.

Darrisaw arrived at team headquarters on Friday for the standard meet-and-greet, one of the pre-pandemic customs being reintroduced as teams around the league take baby steps back toward normal operations.

With his long-armed, 6-foot-5, 322-pound frame and an athleticism to handle NFL-caliber speed on the edge, Darrisaw ought to give Cousins — and, someday, Mond — more confidence to deliver those critical passes from the pocket. Darrisaw didn’t allow a sack in 2020, his junior year for the Hokies.

“I just take pride in keeping the quarterback clean. I had the mindset that the quarterback’s not going to get touched my way, and if that happens, then usually a big play will happen,” Darrisaw said. “Blocking the blind side, you’ve got to get the play started first. So just having that mindset that you don’t want that quarterback to get touched or anything like that, I feel like I’ll be dominant versus whoever I go against.”

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