Current Draft Darling for Vikings Fans May Not Be Available at Pick No. 11

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Two events occurred almost exactly at the same time.

Current Draft Darling for Vikings Fans May Not Be Available at Pick No. 11

Minnesota Vikings fans spent the last week or so talking themselves into Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy as a viable QB1 option for the future, and then the NFL draft community turned around and decided McCarthy may be a Top 8 or Top 10 pick in April’s draft — outside of the Vikings’ reach at the 11th pick.

Current Draft Darling
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

Such is life for Vikings fans, and now the group must use the next couple of months to determine if McCarthy will be available to Minnesota at pick No. 11. The Vikings tallied a 7-10 last year, finishing 3-6 after Kirk Cousins was injured and grabbing their highest draft pick in nine years for their troubles.

Cousins may hit free agency in March — the event begins in 25 days — and Minnesota would need a new quarterback plan if so. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could also re-sign Cousins for a year, two, or three, but it remains to be seen if the two parties meet in the middle financially on an agreement. Maybe, maybe not.

for Vikings Rookie
December 31, 2022; Glendale, Ariz; USA; Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) throws a pass during the pregame before the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Ncaa Fiesta Bowl Game

Meanwhile, Vikings faithful were truly turned on to McCarthy in the last week. No single event appeared to start the process — aside from perhaps a recent ESPN prediction that the Vikings will re-sign Cousins and draft McCarthy somehow in Round 2 — but purple momentum for McCarthy is a thing at the moment.

The problem? Other general managers could fall in love with McCarthy. Denver Broncos reporter Benjamin Allbright tweeted last week, “League is definitely higher on McCarthy (top 10) and lower on Nix/Penix (day 2/3) than media/fans according to the people I talk to.”

A Michigan fan cheers from the front row during the second half of the College Football Playoff national championship game against Washington at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, on Monday, January 8, 2024. © Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Then, Colts beat writer Destin Adams tweeted Wednesday, “The NFL is significantly higher on JJ McCarthy than I ever could have imagined. I had a direct source today share that a team in the NFC has him as their QB2.”

Adams followed up the initial tweet, “The more I watch the more potential I see in the kid but I agree QB 2 is WILD But I’ve heard of 2 other teams that have him as QB3. He’s jumped to my QB 4 slot over the couple weeks of watching more film on him but it’s clear the NFL is HIGH on him.”

Mock Draft Continues
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) signs autographs during the national championship celebration at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Adams’ mystery NFC team is unclear, but the McCarthy smoke isn’t surprising. The man just turned 21 last month, is considered a “winner” among the draft community, and can make all throws necessary to succeed in the NFL, at least per his college tape.

Other than McCarthy, Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), and Bo Nix (Oregon) are expected to go off the board in Rounds 1 and 2. The Vikings could end up with one of those men if Cousins walks, although Williams is probably off-limits. He’s on deck to be selected first overall, probably by the Chicago Bears.

The NFL Draft is 10 weeks away.

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