Mel Kiper’s Draft Prediction for Vikings Confirms Fans’ Suspicion

Vikings Go Defense in Mel Kiper's First Mock Draft of the Year
Mel Kiper

Minnesota Vikings fans want the team to trade up the draftboard and select quarterback Drake Maye but realize a more realistic option is J.J. McCarthy of Michigan.

Mel Kiper’s Draft Prediction for Vikings Confirms Fans’ Suspicion

That’s the consensus among the fanbase, though many have warmed up to McCarthy in the last couple of months — so much so that any letdown involving McCarthy instead of Maye would be minimal.

Draft Prediction
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To feed the beast, ESPN’s Mel Kiper came along this week and predicted McCarthy to the Vikings, a prophecy Vikings faithful saw and nodded.

“At this point in the process, based on everything I’ve heard, I don’t think the Vikings can afford to wait until No. 11 if they want one of the top four quarterbacks,” Kiper explained McCarthy to Minny. “They’re going to have to trade up. Are they giving up too much? It’s certainly possible. But if they believe McCarthy can be their long-term Kirk Cousins replacement, shouldn’t they be OK with sending out their 2025 first-rounder?”

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For context, Kiper opted for a predictable fall of the draftboard before the Vikings prediction, plopping Caleb Williams onto the Chicago Bears’ roster, Jayden Daniels to the Washington Commanders, and Drake Maye to the New England Patriots.

Kiper previously mock-drafted Clemson cornerback Nate Wiggins to Minnesota, but that was in February, about two weeks before the purple team pulled off a pre-draft trade, sending two 2nd-round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap. Kirk Cousins left in free agency to the Atlanta Falcons, and coupled with the Houston trade, virtually all draft heads realized Minnesota’s target would be a quarterback. So, here we are.

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

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. He’s close to a lock as a Top 5 selection in mid-April.

Meanwhile, the Vikings hold the top odds leaguewide to choose McCarthy, situated around a +100 or +115 moneyline per most sportsbooks as of April 10th. The New York Giants lurk, too, with decent odds around +350.

McCarthy just turned 21 in January and checked in at 6’3″ + 219 pounds at the NFL Combine. He’s mobile, can make all the throws necessary to succeed in the NFL, and is an eternal optimist and “culture guy,” like Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell.

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If Kiper is correct, and Minnesota snatches McCarthy in Round 1, he’ll become the first quarterback drafted that high by the club since 2014.

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).

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