One Rookie QB Takes Center Stage for Vikings

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.

If you haven’t warmed up to the idea of J.J. McCarthy as the Minnesota Vikings’ rookie QB selection, now is a good time to start.

One Rookie QB Takes Center Stage for Vikings

Minnesota is in prime territory to select a rookie passer in this year’s draft — also known as five weeks from now — fresh off the steam of a trade with the Houston Texans last Friday. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah sent two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap.

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

Another trade is likely forthcoming, probably into the draft’s Top 5 spots, where Minnesota is now expected to choose Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. That’s the word from Vegas, anyway.

The Purple Persuasion tweeted Wednesday, 36 days before the draft, “The odds of the Vikings landing QB J.J. McCarthy continues to soar. Per FanDuel, McCarthy to be drafted by the Vikings has now moved from +100 a couple days ago now to -130 and still the odds on favorite. The Giants have the 2nd best odds with +250.”

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports.

The Vikings were the frontrunner to land McCarthy before the trade with Houston, and odds only intensified after the swap. In fact, equipped with more 1st-Round draft capital than any quarterback-needy team, drafting McCarthy almost feels like the “worst-case scenario” for Minnesota. Most fans prefer North Carolina’s Drake Maye as the pick but wouldn’t be irked one bit by McCarthy.

Adofo-Mensah must effectively box out McCarthy-hungry teams, though. BR’s Jordan Schultz tweeted Tuesday, “Sources to Bleacher Report: Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy visited the Giants last week, which included dinner with the front office and a tour of the facility. The Commanders are flying out to Ann Arbor to have dinner Thursday night with McCarthy the night before his Pro Day, per multiple sources.”

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.

He’ll be heavily sought after in April — if he isn’t already.

For a while — most of January and some of February — McCarthy felt like the draft’s secret, but that fundamentally changed last month. The Wolverine will be tabbed to lead an NFL franchise in five weeks, and if the Vikings aren’t careful, they could be bypassed on the draftboard by teams like the aforementioned Giants or even Commanders organically at pick No. 2.

In a mock draft this week, NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah picked McCarthy for Minnesota after a trade with the Arizona Cardinals and wrote, “Now the fun really begins. After their recent trade with the Texans, it seems the Vikings are situated to aggressively move up to draft Kirk Cousins’ replacement. The Cardinals trade down, bypassing a chance to pick the first receiver off the board, but they address the position later in Round 1 (SEE: Pick No. 23).”

McCarthy is four years and 10 months younger than Vikings quarterback Jaren Hall, who joined the team as a rookie last year.


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 purple 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.

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