CBS Sports Predicts Outcome of Vikings QB Competition

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

Position battles are decided during training camp; the Minnesota Vikings have several in 2024. After returning the entire cornerback group from last season and adding Shaquill Griffin in free agency and rookie Khyree Jackson in the fourth draft round, the CBs will be one of those fascinating battles. There will also be competition at both the punter and kicker spots.

CBS Sports Predicts Outcome of Vikings QB Competition

CBS Sports Predicts Vikings QB Competition
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For obvious reasons, however, the most notable and polarizing battle will be for the starting quarterback job. The Vikings lost veteran Kirk Cousins in free agency when he joined the Atlanta Falcons after six seasons in Minnesota, and general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah acquired two guys in addition to the returning Jaren Hall and Nick Mullens, who both started games in 2023.

Jobless passer Sam Darnold was hired to be the starter until another option is found via the draft. That guy joined the former third-overall pick in the first round of the draft when the Vikings pulled the trigger by selecting Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

new qb
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Between those two players, who will be the one to receive the first snap in Week 1 of the 2024 season? Cody Benjamin from CBS Sports predicts it to be the experienced Darnold.

The Vikings moved quickly to sign Darnold, the former New York Jets prospect, after six-year starter Kirk Cousins left in free agency. But McCarthy is the future, bringing heralded poise and play-action prowess as the No. 10 overall pick. Could he be a seamless fit in Kevin O’Connell’s loaded offense? Sure. At 21, though, he’s got a long runway, whereas Darnold — who’s still got a splashy arm — has starting experience. Odds are McCarthy will take over at some point in 2024, but Minnesota could opt to give Justin Jefferson and Co. a “safer” start.

Cody Benjamin, CBS Sports

Darnold signed a one-year contract worth $10 million. He started his career with the New York Jets before the franchise traded him to the Carolina Panthers. In those five seasons, he mightily struggled, but the dysfunction in those organizations and the terrible surroundings didn’t provide him the landscape to develop into the best version of himself.

Sam Darnold
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The league, though, was high on him because his best stretch came in the final six games of the 2022 season before he joined the 49ers last year to back up Brock Purdy. He has played well in San Francisco whenever he has seen the field. The hope is that he can be at his best in Minnesota’s offense, which has a solid offensive line and many weapons.

Rookie McCarthy played in some big games in college, most recently the national title game. He comes with excellent physical tools and an already pro-ready skill set. However, some elements of his game would benefit from some fine-tuning, especially putting more touch on his throws and increasing his accuracy on deep throws.

Vikings Can Buy
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Because there is no need to rush the rookie onto the field, Darnold should be considered the favorite to start in Week 1. The Vikings have emphasized that patience will prevail and McCarthy will get the time he needs. Head coach Kevin O’Connell has repeatedly mentioned that he knows from his experience how important it is to get acclimated before entering a game.

One day after McCarthy was added to the roster, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert reported: “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision.”

There is a chance that McCarthy is performing flawlessly in training camp, but if he isn’t, Darnold will get the nod, at least for the first few contests.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt