Pre-Combine Mock Draft Attaches Vikings to Familiar QB

Dustin Baker's Predictive 7-Round Mock Draft for Vikings
Vikings Draft

The 2024 NFL Draft is 59 days away, but before that, the league showcases the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this week, and free agency begins in 14 days.

Pre-Combine Mock Draft Attaches Vikings to Familiar QB

Player movement will be fast and furious from here on out until May, and the draft is arguably the most important event of the offseason, especially for the Minnesota Vikings.

Mock Draft Attaches
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

Why? Well, the club may need to draft Kirk Cousins’ heir apparent, particularly if Cousins walks to free agency. A verdict on the 35-year-old should be announced within the next two weeks, and if even Cousins stays, Minnesota could use its 11th overall pick on a passer. And according to The Draft Network, via its pre-combine mock draft, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is the right fit.

TDN’s Brentley Weissman mocked McCarthy to Minnesota at No. 11 and explained, “Look, I have been on record that there is no denying J.J. McCarthy’s physical tools. He is athletic, has a big arm, and has good overall size. There’s no question about his flashes because when he dials it up, it sure looks pretty. With that said, I do think it’s fair to question why Michigan seemed to limit his exposure and treat him with kid gloves. This is a risk for the Vikings, but I think it’s one they can afford to take.”

dead period
Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, after a 20-17 win over the Washington Commanders in Week 9 of the 2022 regular season.

This month, all of a sudden, a sizable sect of Vikings fans seemed to realize that McCarthy was more than just a “game manager” at the University of Michigan. And because the young passer may be attainable with the Vikings’ organic No. 11 pick in the draft — an expensive trade may not be required — folks have settled on McCarthy as “the guy” for Cousins’ eventual replacement. TDN’s mock draft merely continued the trend.

Other than McCarthy, Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), and Bo Nix (Oregon) are predicted 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.

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.

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

McCarthy is 6’3″ and 200 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 watch and learn behind Cousins for a year or two if Minnesota plans on re-signing the incumbent QB1.

the QB to Avoid
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 knocks on McCarthy? There are a couple: his frame is lean — he isn’t big-bodied like Josh Allen, for example. And he isn’t a total maestro throwing deep outside the numbers, which is an obvious problem if the skill doesn’t develop.

Teddy Bridgewater was the last quarterback drafted by the Vikings in Round 1 — a decade ago.

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