Mel Kiper Confirms His Vikings Draft Choice

Mel Kiper Taps 2 Prospects for Vikings in Latest 2-Round Mock Draft
Mel Kiper

The 2024 draft is just a few days away, and the three-day event could be crucial for the Minnesota Vikings, as the organization is trying to acquire a new franchise. Depending on one’s definition of franchise QB, that prospect might be the first one in Minnesota since the 1970s when Fran Tarkenton captained the purple team.

Mel Kiper Confirms His Vikings Draft Choice

Mel Kiper Confirms His Vikings Draft Choice
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has a loaded war chest and can offer picks 11 and 23 in the upcoming draft and future picks to move up the draft board to get within reach of one of the top prospects.

The man in charge has recently discussed the risk involved in trading up and acknowledged the potential rewards. In franchise history, the Vikings have never drafted a passer in the top ten; the third-year GM could be the first one to pull the trigger that early.

In the weeks leading up to the draft, the pundits covering the flashy event try different theories to mix up their mock drafts. Still, one guy, perhaps the most notable name in the draft world, Mel Kiper Jr. from ESPN, sticks with his idea to send Michigan’s QB J.J. McCarthy to Minnesota.

Vikings Vegas Odds
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

In a joint mock draft with colleague Field Yates, he traded with the Chargers to acquire the fifth overall selection. In return, the Chargers get picks 11, 23, and the 2025 first-rounder. He made the same move just last week in his solo mock draft.

Did you expect a different quarterback here? Giving up that 2025 pick is going to hurt for Minnesota, but it would be worth it if the organization feels McCarthy can be the guy. There’s some risk involved — McCarthy was never asked to carry the load with his arm in college — but his physical tools are appealing.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN

It is a steep price, but the Vikings will not care if they are convinced that McCarthy is their guy. Adofo-Mensah said last week: “If you get the guy right, and he’s your answer for ten years, there’s no price you probably wouldn’t have paid looking back. You have to go back to the odds of that happening, and that’s the counterplay. Every GM is coming up here and talk, and they would probably say the same thing.”

Vikings Top Draft Target
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.

The 21-year-old never carried the offense in Michigan, which is viewed as a negative. He wasn’t asked to drop back 50 times a game and didn’t light up the stat sheets for 500 yards and five touchdowns in any given week.

However, he has some promising tools that could help him become that guy at the next level. He offers mobility Minnesota has lacked in recent years. His athleticism can be used in the running game but even more so in the passing game because it can get him out of trouble. Horizontal scrambling to throw the ball down the field is something all elite quarterbacks in the leagues do, and he has the necessary skill set to pull it off.

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) takes a moment to watch TCU celebrate after Michigan lost, 51-45, at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

That, paired with an above-average arm, poise in the pocket, and the ability to hit passes in crucial situations, makes him the perfect guy for Kevin O’Connell’s offense. In the last two seasons at Michigan, all he did was execute the offense, step up in big moments, and win football games.

He needs to improve his accuracy when throwing deep. Explosive plays are indispensable in the NFL, and Minnesota’s future quarterback must be able to utilize explosive receivers.

The alternatives to McCarthy are Drake Maye (North Carolina) and Jayden Daniels (LSU).

Adofo-Mensah will be on the clock on April 25, but it remains to be seen how early that will be.

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