Red Flag Raised Over Prime Vikings QB Target J.J. McCarthy

jj mccarthy

Getty Former Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy.

The Minnesota Vikings are the consensus No. 1 destination for Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who has climbed from second-round prospect to potentially the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft.

The charismatic 21-year-old has impressed in interviews and has the marks of a winner with his former coach Jim Harbaugh serving as his leading hype man.

Taking the temperature on McCarthy at the NFL owners’ meetings in Orlando, Florida, last week, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported that the most popular answer from team executives on who the Washington Commanders will take with the second pick was McCarthy.

McCarthy is certainly a candidate for pre-draft hype. His efficiency as a passer (49 career touchdowns to 11 interceptions in college), his winning record (27-1 all-time at Michigan) and an undefeated national championship run last season are all reasons to select him in the first round.

However, The Athletic’s Alec Lewis admitted he was dubious of McCarthy going second overall. He sought a second opinion from an AFC executive, who called the latest McCarthy buzz a “media creation.”

“I’ve talked to a lot of scouts Alec, and I think a lot of that, him being picked that high, is [media creation],” Lewis said on KFAN on April 1, relaying the executive’s message.

While McCarthy at No. 2 is a questionable reach, he has worked his way into top-five conversation. A few spots later in the draft may not seem a big deal, but it be a matter of saving the Vikings a future first-round pick if McCarthy is their guy and plan to go to any lengths to land him.

A team more willing to trade down like the Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 overall could be satisfied with the Vikings’ offer of the No. 11 and No. 23 picks with a late-round sweetener.

The three first-round picks the San Francisco 49ers used to climb from No. 12 to No. 3 to land Trey Lance seems to be the rate the Vikings would have to match to switch spots with a top-three team that is in the market for a quarterback.

PFF Buying J.J. McCarthy Top-5 Hype

JJ McCarthy (left) and Jim Harbaugh of Michigan football

GettyJJ McCarthy (left) and Jim Harbaugh of Michigan football

Less than a month before the 2024 draft, analytics giant Pro Football Focus (PFF) is buying the hype that McCarthy will be drafted in the top five picks this year.

“The McCarthy discourse has been all over the place, with a meteoric rise up the ranks and consistent intel from all the top national reporters that the league is infatuated national champion quarterback. It also helps that Los Angeles Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh, who won the national championship with McCarthy, claimed his pro day was the best he’d ever seen and that McCarthy should be the No. 1 overall selection,” PFF’s Brad Spielberger wrote on April 2. “Is he hyping up his former player? Yes. Is he perhaps trying to get a team to trade up to No. 4 with the Arizona Cardinals so the Chargers have their pick of the first non-quarterback in the class? Or even trade up with the Chargers themselves for a haul? Probably.

“However, the McCarthy buzz is real, and we expect him to be a top-five pick come draft night. It’s now just a question of how early he goes and which team he ends up with.”

The Best 2024 QB Will Be Whoever Lands With Vikings, NFL Exec Says

Getty2024 NFL draft quarterback prospects (from left) Caleb Williams, J.J. McCarthy, Jayden Daniels, and Michael Penix Jr.

Which quarterback the Vikings take in the draft remains the A-matter topic ahead of the draft — but it also may not matter much.

An NFL executive weighed in on the upcoming and said that whichever quarterback lands in Minnesota will be the best quarterback of the 2024 draft class.

“You’re going in with an offensive-minded head coach who’s been effectively an offensive coordinator,” Robinson said on a recent Yahoo Sports podcast, per Bring Me The Sports. “You saw what he was able to do with Kirk Cousins. When Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles, (Vikings coach Kevin) O’Connell had gotten, in that scheme, had gotten Cousins to the point where he was arguably playing the best football of his life.”

Head coach Kevin O’Connell has stated that he’s prepared for several different outcomes that could play out in the draft. There’s likely a handful of quarterbacks he would be comfortable tying himself to for the next four years.

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