Rookie QB Emerges from NFL Combine as Favorite to Land with Vikings

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The Top 3 quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft class basically bailed from the fun part of the NFL Combine. Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels didn’t throw the football, only showing up for measurements and interviews.

Rookie QB Emerges from NFL Combine as Favorite to Land with Vikings

A buzzkill, indeed.

But their collective refusal to participate — they’re waiting for Pro Days — paved the way for Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy to steal the show. And aside from one incomplete pass that some naysayers curiously pounced on, the Wolverine didn’t disappoint.

Mock Draft Attaches
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Now more than ever, McCarthy has emerged as the favorite to end up as the Minnesota Vikings’ rookie quarterback selection, mainly because he won’t involve a mighty trade into the first three picks.

Put simply, he’s the compromise selection. Most Vikings fans — not all — believe the time is now for Minnesota to draft a quarterback, which would be its first from Round 1 in 10 years. Even if the Vikings find a way to re-sign Kirk Cousins, an impending free agent, McCarthy could still be drafted to watch and learn for a year or two. The man just turned 21 in January. The other blue-chip prospects, like Williams, Maye, and Daniels, will cost humongous trade packages, probably requiring three or four high-round picks.

McCarthy won’t cost that much.

Impasse with Kirk
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Meanwhile, McCarthy personally was quite complimentary of the Vikings. He said last week about head coach Kevin O’Connell, “Coach O’Connell led the whole thing. Everything they talked about wanting out of a QB aligns with what I want. Just being able to get on the board with them, go through their plays, it was special.”

McCarthy met with O’Connell and new Vikings quarterback coach Josh McCown, who helped begin the maturation process with Bryce Young last year, albeit with slender success. Nevertheless, the conversation with McCarthy is underway. It won’t be weird one iota if McCarthy is the Vikings’ 1st-Round selection in 7.5 weeks, whether via organic pick at No. 11 or trade into the Top 10.

Combine as Favorite
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And that’s all on top of mock drafts pairing Minnesota with McCarthy, like all over the place. The world knows the Vikings need a plan for life after Kirk Cousins, and McCarthy feels like the most sensible choice as of early March.

According to oddsmakers, the frontrunner to end up in Minnesota among 2024 rookie quarterbacks is — you guessed it — McCarthy. DraftKings has set McCarthy-to-Minnesota odds at +300, while FanDuel attached a +450 moneyline for pairing probability. 

McCarthy is 6’3″ and 220 pounds. He turned 21 last month, so he’s incredibly young, especially by recent draft class’ standards. It is unclear if McCarthy could be ready on Day One for the Vikings — perhaps not — but he could be intertwined with a patchover quarterback. Or Cousins.

falcons tilt
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Overall, based on his draftability — the one highly-coveted quarterback who isn’t guaranteed to fly off the board via the first three picks — plus Minnesota’s budding interest, McCarthy can be reasonably considered the frontrunner to become a Viking.

Remember, of course, the draft lead-up is fluid. McCarthy could be a Top 3 commodity by April — or fall into Round 2. The hype machine has no limits.

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