Draft Hype Continues for One Rookie QB in Vikings’ Orbit

Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines fans cheer during the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings will announce their 1st-Round draft plans in 16 days, and the masses believe a new quarterback is on the way.

Draft Hype Continues for One Rookie QB in Vikings’ Orbit

Of course, Minnesota signed veteran Sam Darnold to lead the charge in 2024 after long-time passer Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons four weeks ago. But Darnold is considered by most as a patchover option to a rookie quarterback on the way, so a new era will be underway when Minnesota reveals its 1st-Round pick on April 25th.

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.

The draft hype machine has wiggled players all around since free agency wound down last month, and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy has arguably been the keynote beneficiary — plus the odds-on favorite to land with the Vikings.

And according to NBC Sports‘ Michael Holley, the McCarthy smoke is real. Holley said this week on NBC Sports airwaves, “I’m hearing more and more chatter that J.J. McCarthy is high, if not first, on the boards of the Commanders and the Patriots … he may be QB 1 for both of those teams.”

Changing Thoughts
January 10th, 2024. Minnesota Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell and GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center concluding the 2023 NFL regular season. Minnesota finished 7-10 in 2023 and missed the postseason.

McCarthy began his draft journey in December as a 2nd-Round prospect, and few questioned the placement. Then, however, his Wolverines won the National Championship over the Washington Huskies in January, creating a mighty draftboard climb for the young passer — so much so that he’s evidently close to a lock as a Top 5 selection.

“I’ve been told that I may need to dial it back a little bit and that it is not a crazy thought to say that J.J. McCarthy is going to be in the top five and maybe the top three. Including New England,” Holley added.

Forced by Broncos
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

In a mock draft last week, ESPN’s Mel Kiper identified the Los Angeles Chargers as a trade partner for Minnesota and explained, “For Jim Harbaugh, JJ McCarthy is his guy and JJ McCarthy can benefit the Chargers by the fact that somebody like Minnesota will move up, keeps him in Big Ten country. Michigan to the Minnesota Vikings. That allows Jim Harbaugh and the Chargers to get a couple picks. They need a tackle and a receiver. Now, it does take them out of a situation to get an elite wideout, but they do get a receiver at some point because of the depth at that spot.”

Meanwhile, the Vikings hold the top odds leaguewide to choose McCarthy, situated around a +100 or +115 moneyline per most sportsbooks as of April 9th. The New York Giants lurk, too, with decent odds around +350.

Vikings Vegas Odds
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

A handful of quarterbacks in recent years have experienced a McCarthy-like ascension on the draftboard, like Malik Willis in 2022 and Will Levis in 2023. Yet, for some reason, McCarthy’s solidification in the Top 5 or Top 10 feels different.

Per Holley, McCarthy won’t experience a draft night slide like Willis or Levis.

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.