Vikings Insider Puts a Damper on J.J. McCarthy, Sam Darnold Camp Battle

Sam Darnold, J.J. McCarthy

Getty Vikings quarterbacks Sam Darnold (left) and J.J. McCarthy (right).

Minnesota Vikings rookie J.J. McCarthy will be the spectacle at training camp this summer as he hopes to unseat Sam Darnold as the Vikings’ starting quarterback to begin the 2024 season.

However, even if McCarthy beats out Darnold in training camp, that may not be enough to make him the team’s Week 1 starter.

Star Tribune beat reporter Ben Goessling offered insight into the Vikings’ thought process in developing McCarthy, saying the rookie has a higher bar to clear than just performing better than Darnold.

“I don’t think that their approach to the job is based on: is he better than Sam Darnold,” Goessling said on KFAN radio on May 14. “I think the threshold they are looking at is: is he ready to take the job and run with it and do all of the things that we want to see done by an elite quarterback in this offense? And if it’s not there yet, or if it’s not there consistently enough yet, let’s wait. I think it’s about much more about that than this year.”

1st Impression of Rookie J.J. McCarthy Shows Positive to the Vikings’ Patient Approach

J.J. McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings

GettyJ.J. McCarthy of the Minnesota Vikings.

Although the media has only had the chance to see McCarthy once at Vikings rookie minicamps, he already flashed abilities that made his draft stock rise to top-10 territory.

McCarthy has the makings of a born leader and winner from his time at Michigan. While Kirk Cousins has received some flak for making the safe play, McCarthy has the opposite gene and wants to take the big swing.

Several media members noted McCarthy’s arm strength and fluidity in his first practice with the Vikings. He also embraced Kevin O’Connell’s encouragement to make mistakes, throwing into tight windows and seeing if his fastball could make it there.

McCarthy still needs to learn to put more touch on the ball and master the X’s and O’s of O’Connell’s scheme. He could be good enough to start immediately in a game manager role where the playcalling protects him — the most common critique from playing with the Wolverines.

The alternative is the Vikings wait longer to refine his throwing mechanics and footwork so that McCarthy doesn’t need to be on any leash when he finally sees the field.

A top-10 selection at quarterback should have playmaking upside, and the Vikings are hoping to build up that part of McCarthy’s game.

McCarthy’s QB Coach Tells Vikings Don’t ‘Rush the Recipe’

J.J. McCarthy, Denver Broncos

GettyJ.J. McCarthy #9 of the Michigan Wolverines.

McCarthy, who just turned 21 years old, was the youngest quarterback to come out of the 2024 draft class.

While his private quarterback coach John Beck penned him as an ideal Shanahan-style quarterback due to his functional athleticism, Beck urged the Vikings to not “rush the recipe” for the 21-year-old rookie, likening him to a chocolate cake.

“You have so many good things in J.J. McCarthy,” Beck told The Athletic’s Alec Lewis. “Don’t rush the recipe. Don’t hurry through trying to get this cake baked and out of the oven as fast as you can.

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