NFL Analyst Predicts the Improbable for J.J. McCarthy

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

It’s J.J. McCarthy hype season in Minnesota and beyond, and there’s really no debating it.

NFL Analyst Predicts the Improbable for J.J. McCarthy

The Minnesota Vikings used the draft’s 10th overall pick to scoop McCarthy, a man labeled as the quarterback of the future after Kirk Cousins skedaddled to the Atlanta Falcons eight weeks ago. With the side-dish patchover services of Sam Darnold, McCarthy will take the reins of the Vikings’ offense sometime in 2024 or 2025.

Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

And according to Fox Sports‘ analyst Joe Klatt, McCarthy is in line to do precisely that — as early as Week 1. So in less than four months.

Klatt outlined the improbable outcome this week, “I believe that he can and will start for Kevin O’Connell. McCarthy is hyper-competitive and really skilled. The Vikings are going to see a guy who can win them football games right away, partly because of what he does on the field, but also because he’s such a strong leader. He went 27-1 as Michigan’s starting quarterback, making plays in key moments where prior Michigan teams failed.”

Because the aforementioned Darnold was procured in March for $10 million, most believe(d) he will start the season as QB1 and eventually pave the way for McCarthy, a 21-year-old. But steam from the last week or so indicates McCarthy could be ready right away.

J.J. McCarthy
Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports.

“McCarthy is in a situation to really succeed early on, kind of similar to C.J. Stroud. In fact, players on the same team won the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year in the last two years. The Texans were one of them with Stroud and Will Anderson, who they traded up to No. 3 to draft,” Klatt continued.

The perk of drafting McCarthy — especially instead of Drake Maye, who was linked to Minnesota ad nauseam for a few months before the draft — is game-readiness. Maye, for example, might need a full year to watch and learn, as draft pundits considered him “raw” but with fabulous upside. Conversely, McCarthy is the type of rookie who could be plugged-and-played sooner than most. Hence the Klatt prognostication.

mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Of course, Minnesota has a long way to go in agreeing with pundits’ predictions. The club reportedly has a set of benchmarks for McCarthy to clear before seeing a regular season field, and no one is too sure if that checklist applies to 2024 or 2025. Stay tuned.

Furthermore, Klatt didn’t stop at Week 1 with his improbable declarations. He claimed that both Vikings’ highly-touted rookies, McCarthy and EDGE rusher Dallas Turner, could win Rookie of the Year recognition. “There’s a chance we see that in Minnesota, too. If McCarthy plays early enough to put up the requisite numbers, we could see the Vikings sweep the Rookie of the Year awards. That’s how good of a situation McCarthy is in,” Klatt concluded.

McCarthy and Turner, plus 22 more Vikings rookies, report to rookie minicamp on Friday.

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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