A closer look at the QB the Vikings drafted in the 3rd round
The Vikings drafted QB Kellen Mond with the 66th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, a pick they acquired the night before in a trade down with the New York Jets. The Vikings were looking for a backup quarterback to replace Sean Mannion, and one that has the developmental upside to be a potential starter in a couple years, if the team decides to move on from Kirk Cousins.
Apparently the Vikings made an effort to trade up for Justin Fields, but it was not a unanimous decision within the Vikings’ front office, according to Ben Goessling of the StarTribune. Some liked Mond just as well as Fields, and therefore weren’t going to give up everything for Fields, and a couple had concerns about Fields’ epilepsy.
Height: 6’2.5” | Hands: 9.38”
Weight: 211 lbs. | Arms: 33.5”
40 Time: 4.59” (95th percentile)
Overall, Mond is a bit on the small side for a quarterback, but not to the extent it’s a concern. Like most QBs, he didn’t do the rest of the athletic drills at his pro day. He is seen as a plus athlete and mobile quarterback who can be a threat running the ball, but probably not to the extent that QB runs should be schemed into the offense regularly to maximize that ability in the NFL.
While most agree that Mond has the desired quick release, there is some differing views on his arm strength, with some saying he has excellent arm strength, and other describing it as essentially second tier, below the top QBs in this draft class. It may be that both are true, as he may not have as much velocity on his deep balls as some of the top QBs, but on the other hand it’s more than adequate to make all the throws in the NFL.
College Grades and Stats
Mond was the #2 quarterback recruit in the country coming out of high school, behind only Tua Tagovailoa. Originally from San Antonio, Mond rather interestingly turned down offers from LSU, Ohio State, Georgia, and Clemson, among others, in favor of Texas A&M in order to be closer to home.
In 2020, Mond led Texas A&M to a 9-1 record against SEC competition, their only loss was week two against Alabama, who went on to be National Champion, while Texas A&M won the Orange Bowl against North Carolina. Mond went 3-0 in bowl games at Texas A&M, and was also the MVP of the Senior Bowl earlier this year.
In 2019, Mond led the Auggies to an 8-5 record (4-4 in the SEC), while in 2018 Mond led the Auggies to a 9-4 record (5-3 in the SEC) including an incredible 74-72 win over Joe Burrow and LSU in a game that included seven overtime periods.
Overall, Mond’s college stats are not as impressive as Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Mac Jones, Tua Tagovailoa, or Joe Burrow, but neither was his supporting cast. In the last three NFL drafts, only three offensive players from Texas A&M have been drafted: TE Jace Sternberger (3rd round), C Eric McCoy (2nd round), and OL Dan Moore (4th round). The only non-day-three defensive player drafted out of Texas A&M in the last three drafts has been DT Justin Madubuike last year in the 3rd round.
To say that Mond’s supporting cast of receivers, offensive linemen, running backs, and defensive talent pales in comparison to Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and LSU under Burrow is an understatement. Mond was forced to throw under pressure, and into tight windows much more often than the top Power-5 conference QBs drafted in the past two years, so that should factor into his evaluation in comparison to them.
Quarterback with dual-threat physical tools who has grown and matured into a role as a confident game manager. The Aggies’ offense asked too much of Mond in the past, which led to diminishing returns. However, the 2020 offense featured a strong rushing attack paired with play-action, where he not only found greater confidence and rhythm as a passer, but also noticeable pocket poise and accuracy. He doesn’t often get antsy working from the pocket and throws with solid ball placement underneath. Issues with touch and anticipation create erratic completion numbers when asked to throw down the field and outside the numbers, which will concern evaluators. His zone-read talent and quick release to incorporate RPOs adds to his draft value, but he might lack the consistency to ever become more than a solid backup. – Lance Zierlein
From a statistical standpoint, Kellen Mond is one of the most prolific players to not only play in College Station, but also the SEC. He’s a slim, but adequately built quarterback prospect who possesses lots of velocity with throws when able to step into them. With a high-elbow but snappy type of release, he has the torque and enthusiasm behind passes that enables him to be very efficient in the short to intermediate areas. Mond always displays high levels of poise as he often shows that he’s never in a hurry. From his mechanics to how he deals with pressure surrounding him, he remains under control and focused on the task at hand. He’s one of the most battled-tested throwers in the country as he takes an excruciating amount of hits throughout games but continues to battle and make throws. The often occurrence of shots to his body has helped him better deal with pressure from all directions inside the pocket. He’s mainly a half-field read thrower that can get the ball out quickly and efficiently when on schedule. While barely scratching the level of an above-average athlete, he has enough athleticism to get himself out of trouble and gain hidden yardage when breaking outside of the pocket as well. He’s strictly a shotgun/pistol quarterback who’s had all of his experience there.
Playing faster is sometimes needed, but he remains at the same pace. Decaying pockets can be challenging for him to escape and he waits too long to make that decision instead of correctly timing when, where, and how to exit the pocket in order to explore and create off-script opportunities. He shows great stages of poise, but will have plays where he makes questionable throws down the field in hopes of being bailed out by aggressive perimeter options. – Jordan Reid, The Draft Network
Positives: Athletic quarterback with a next-level arm who flashes brilliance. Patient in the pocket and buys as much time as necessary. Senses the rush and steps up to avoid defenders. Athletic, easily eludes defenders, and picks up yardage with his legs when necessary. Possesses a quick release and a live arm, gets speed on throws, and easily drives downfield passes. Fires the ball through tight windows, leads receivers with passes, and throws targets open. Loses no ball speed throwing on the move.
Displays a sense of timing and does not have receivers waiting for the ball to arrive. Knows where his targets are on the field and quickly locates the open wideout. Spreads the ball around and uses all his receivers. Sets up screen throws, puts touch on passes, and delivers a catchable ball. Effectively commands the offense.
Negatives: Very slow moving his head away from the primary target and gives away passes at times. Must do a better job selling ball fakes. Can be erratic with his pass placement.
Analysis: Mond is an athletic quarterback who displayed a lot of progress in his game last season. He possesses a terrific amount of upside and has starting potential at the next level if he gets hooked up with the proper coach and continues developing his game. – Tony Pauline, Pro Football Network
College Film Analysis
Five 2019 Games (in order played)
All 2020 Games (in order they were played)
2021 Senior Bowl
While there is some consensus that Mond’s floor is that of at least a decent backup, there are divergent views on what his ceiling is, and both are defensible and can be supported by a certain amount of his college film.
One view is that Mond has been inconsistent, and failed to raise his game sufficiently over his college career to support a ceiling as high as a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. His accuracy on intermediate and deep throws outside the hash marks is poor, and he’s failed to make many big-time or off-platform throws, despite having some ability to do so. He doesn’t always respond well to pressure in the pocket, and his arm strength, while adequate, is nothing special. He’s also had a lot of experience in college, suggesting that he’s reached his plateau.
The other view is that Mond is smart and able to read defenses and leverage, makes good decisions, has good poise, feel for pressure, can move well in the pocket, and make all the throws- often in more difficult circumstances under pressure and throwing into tight windows. He’s led his team to victories against top competition, and can move the chains- and make chunk plays- with both his arm and his feet. He could become more consistent with his ball placement and accuracy, but this is also a critique of other quarterbacks with high ceilings in the NFL. It can also be argued that the scheme and supporting cast at Texas A&M did him no favors, at least relative to other QBs in this draft class, and finding a better fit with more weapons will help him reach the next level.
I agree that Mond, like most of the other QBs in this draft class, needs to become more consistently accurate, particularly on deep throws, and improve his ball placement at times, although this is less of an issue, to become a viable starter in the NFL. He’ll also need to improve his ability to look off defenders in coverage. I don’t see significant issues overall with his poise in the pocket, or responding to pressure, and he appears to be relatively advanced in reading defenses, making progressions, and making good decisions. But it’s difficult to tell if he, or any of the QBs in this class, can make the necessary improvements to become a top quarterback in the NFL. Mond is able to make off-platform throws without losing velocity on his throws, but it doesn’t appear that he was asked to do this much at Texas A&M, and I’m not sure he had the receivers that could respond well in those situations.
Ultimately whether Mond is tapped to succeed Kirk Cousins in a couple years may well come down to a salary cap figure. If Cousins pushes for a $40 million/year extension, the Vikings may balk and decide to take their chances with Mond, or another QB potentially, if that’s the case. On the other hand, if Cousins plays as well or better than he has so far, and an extension closer to $30 million/year can be agreed, what Mond’s ceiling is as a QB could become a moot point- at least over the next 3-4 years.
The other, more upside scenario is the Patrick Mahomes/Alex Smith example, where Cousins is fine but Mond shows so much improvement/talent/promise, that he’s clearly the better (and much cheaper) alternative. It will be up to Mond to create that scenario for the Vikings, and prove all his doubters wrong.