Odds Predict Vikings Will Change Plans for J.J. McCarthy in Rookie Season

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

Getty Quarterback J.J. McCarthy of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings have been explicit about their intentions to proceed with caution where rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy is concerned, though oddsmakers suspect a bluff.

DraftKings SportsBook offered opening lines on several prop bets following the conclusion of the NFL draft over the weekend, including on Offensive Rookie of the Year (OROY) and as to who will lead this apparently stacked rookie QB class in passing yards in 2024. McCarthy begins the year with the fourth-best odds (+800) to finish the season as OROY, while he has the third-strongest chance to lead the group in passing (+330) as of Monday, April 29.

Only quarterback Caleb Williams of the Chicago Bears (+200), wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. of the Arizona Cardinals (+600) and QB Jayden Daniels of the Washington Commanders (+650) are more likely to win Rookie of the Year than McCarthy. Williams (+110) and Daniels (+250) are the only two quarterbacks with better odds to out-gain McCarthy through the air in the upcoming season.

Vikings Say They Won’t Rush J.J. McCarthy’s Development

J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

GettyQuarterback J.J. McCarthy of the Minnesota Vikings.

Those odds overwhelmingly suggest that oddsmakers expect McCarthy to start the majority, if not all, of his rookie year. However, that is not the message Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sent when discussing his new quarterback’s development plan after drafting him No. 10 overall.

“We’re not going to rush his development. We’re just going to do what’s best for the Vikings in the short and long term,” Adofo-Mensah said, per ESPN’s Kevin Seifert. “A lot of times when we go back over history and say, ‘These quarterbacks have missed,’ there’s a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure that our hands are clean and [we] give him the best opportunity [we] can to be the best player he can be in this offense.”

It is important to note that Minnesota’s GM didn’t rule out the chance that McCarthy will start at some point in 2024, noting only that there is a path with specific benchmarks the rookie will need to hit before he takes the reins of the offense. If “what’s best” for the team is that McCarthy start in Week 1 or Week 3 or Week 10, then that’s what will happen — it’s just difficult for anyone outside the organization’s inner circle to know precisely how it will define the concept of ‘ready’ where McCarthy is concerned.

Vikings Top Brass Bet Jobs on J.J. McCarthy

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Kevin O'Connell, Minnesota Vikings

GettyMinnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (left) and head coach Kevin O’Connell (right).

Taking a more cynical view of the subject, one can infer that both Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell have bet their jobs on how good McCarthy turns out to be, and that he can achieve a significant level of success relatively early in his NFL career. As such, the two leaders of the Vikings could feel pressure to get him involved sooner than later.

The flip side of that coin is that Minnesota should have some rope over at least the next couple of seasons to get McCarthy where he needs to be so that the offense can also attain success.

Going back to the other side of the equation, one must consider receiver Justin Jefferson and his looming contract extension, which is likely to reset the market at the position. How long will arguably the league’s best pass-catcher be willing to tread water with Sam Darnold under center before the Vikings start truly playing to win at a high level in the same division as 2023 playoff teams the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions, as well as the Bears with their revamped roster?

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