Another Team Had Eyes on Vikings’ New QB

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Remember all that alleged smoke about the Washington Commanders liking J.J. McCarthy at the top of the draft? To an extent, it was true.

Another Team Had Eyes on Vikings’ New QB

The Commanders’ brass was never likely to move off its eventual pick, LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, but Washington evidently had McCarthy second on its big board, notably ahead of Drake Maye, who was the fascination among Minnesota Vikings fans leading into the draft.

Vikings Trade
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

ESPN’s John Keim wrote last weekend about Washington, general manager Adam Peters, and McCarthy, “According to multiple sources in Washington, Peters was also high on McCarthy. Others in the building were, too. The 2023 national champion was efficient, had a strong arm and moved well. Washington’s decision-makers also loved how personable he was.”

Minnesota landed McCarthy via trade up the board by one spot with the New York Jets. After Michael Penix Jr. unexpectedly became an Atlanta Falcon with the eighth overall pick, the temperature rose, and the Vikings couldn’t wait and hope McCarthy slid organically to them at pick No. 11.

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Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

“[Peters] liked Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy more than presumed second choice Drake Maye, the North Carolina star QB, according to multiple sources. But Daniels — due in part to his experience, polish, resilience and game-changing ability — became the organization’s top pick early in their evaluations and never lost ground as Peters & Co. finished out the process,” Keim continued.

Maye landed with the New England Patriots, and he’ll hope to “do more with less” in the AFC East, as Maye’s offensive weapon stable is arguably the least dynamic in the NFL.

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Keim concluded about Washington’s diligence on McCarthy: “Many in the NFL said McCarthy had untapped potential because of Michigan’s run-heavy offensive approach, but many in the organization thought he needed more experience. Washington also heavily scouted Maye and Michael Penix Jr. All four quarterbacks visited Washington before the draft. In the end, McCarthy was second on its list of options.”

During the build-up to the draft, Washington was reportedly open for business if the right offer presented itself. Peters, the Commanders boss, said recently, “I think you’d be surprised, really, in terms of the offers. We got, really one solid offer and didn’t even move the needle. It would have taken — it had to move mountains to get us off Jayden.”

Vikings mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Indiana during the second half of U-M’s 52-7 win over Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Ann Arbor. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

So, when folks hope to determine truth from fiction during next year’s draft, remember that not all draft tidbits are smokescreens. Many didn’t believe McCarthy could fly off the board as high as pick No. 2. It was at least on the table.


Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.

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