Bleacher Report Publishes J.J. McCarthy Theory

Rookie QB
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Iowa during the first half of the Big Ten championship game at Luca Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023.

Some still cling to the theory — or hope — that J.J. McCarthy will start early and often for the 2024 Minnesota Vikings.

Bleacher Report Publishes J.J. McCarthy Theory

And that’s despite tangible hints from Vikings leaders that Sam Darnold, a veteran signed during free agency, will begin the 2024 campaign as QB1. Bleacher Report was the latest, predicting McCarthy’s 2024 statline this week, along with 31 other NFL quarterbacks.

Minnesota 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.

For McCarthy, BR’s Gary Davenport evidently believes McCarthy will start all or most of his rookie season, predicting this outcome for the young Wolverine: “Projected Stats: 63.2 completion percentage, 3,405 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 168 rushing yards, 2 rushing touchdowns.”

Twenty-four total touchdowns and over 3,400 passing yards would be music to Vikings fans’ ears, as the numbers would provide hope for the 2025 season when McCarthy might truly be ready to take off in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

bleacher report
J.J. McCarthy with the Minnesota practice highlights from OTA No. 2 of 2024, which took place at the TCO Performance Center. The Minnesota Vikings used the 10th overall pick of the 2024 NFL Draft to select McCarthy after a trade up the board with the New York Jets.

Davenport added, “We’re going to project rookie J.J. McCarthy as the year-long starter for the Minnesota Vikings at quarterback — projecting stats for Sam Darnold just seems mean to Vikes fans. After the Vikings drafted McCarthy 10th overall in April, Minnesota general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah told reporters that they weren’t going to rush him onto the field.”

“Darnold or McCarthy” will be a popular summer event and debate among the team’s faithful, with most forecasting Darnold as the starter, at least out of the gate in September. Minnesota’s front office inked Darnold for one year and $10 million and has offered clues that McCarthy need not play right away.

Minnesota quarterback Sam Darnold addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during OTAs. Darnold joined the Vikings’ roster in March 2024 during free agency, on deck as a Kirk Cousins replacement and sharing the QB room later with rookie passer J.J. McCarthy of Michigan.

“McCarthy has no shortage of experience, even if he didn’t throw the ball a ton at Michigan. In wide receivers Jordan Addison and Justin Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson, the weapons are there in the passing game. It’s not a bad situation for a young quarterback to find himself in. The larger question as we move through the summer is whether McCarthy will be ready to take advantage of it,” Davenport concluded.

A handful of prominent voices have circled a Week 7 showdown against the Detroit Lions as McCarthy’s possible first start, which would effectively slice the BR stat projection in half.

This week at organized team activities (OTAs), wideout Jordan Addison confirmed McCarthy’s throwing prowess, telling reporters, “He’s got a nice, tight spiral. So you’ve got to make sure you catch it. But I like him. J.J.’s been playing really well. Playing with confidence, anticipating throws. Making mistakes but learning from them. He’s got a bright future. They all look good. I’m confident with whoever they throw out there.”

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports.

McCarthy has the league’s fourth-best odds to win Offensive Rookie of the Year, with a moneyline around +1000.

Vikings mandatory minicamp gets underway in five days.


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 MIN 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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