Stiff Competition for Certain Rookie QB Awaits Vikings

Mock
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

After Caleb Williams to the Chicago Bears, nothing is certain whatsoever about the NFL draft. That rookie QB will likely head to the Windy City, but then things will get funky.

Stiff Competition for Certain Rookie QB Awaits Vikings

Look no further than J.J. McCarthy’s status. Three months ago, mock drafters and NFL fans theorized the man as a 2nd-Round draft pick. Then, his Michigan Wolverines won the National Championship, and the draft hype machine has dragged McCarthy into the draft’s Top 10, if not Top 5.

Rookie QB
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.

Suddenly, too, Minnesota faces stiff competition for McCarthy, according to Bleacher Report. He may no longer be the “fallback option” of Vikings’ quarterback plans.

BR’s Jordan Schultz tweeted Tuesday, some 37 days before the draft, “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.”

Vikings Trade
Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports.

For a while — like most of January — McCarthy felt like the draft’s secret, but that fundamentally changed around February. The man 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.

Kirk Cousins signed with the Atlanta Falcons last week for four years and $180 million, a new start for the man who spent six seasons as the Minnesota Vikings QB1. Two days later, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pulled off a splashy trade, sending two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap. Most believe a follow-up trade into the draft’s Top 5 is around the bend, anytime between now and April 25th.

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll, right, and defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale on the sideline. The Giants defeat the Bengals, 25-22, in a preseason game at MetLife Stadium on August 21, 2022, in East Rutherford. Nfl Ny Giants Preseason Game Vs Bengals Bengals At Giants

Since the trade, Vikings fans have debated between McCarthy and North Carolina’s Drake Maye as the franchise’s next quarterback. And while McCarthy could assuredly end up as the candidate, it’s no longer safe to assume he’s the fourth-best or fourth-most coveted of the draft’s Top 4 prospects: Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, and J.J. McCarthy. The Wolverine could realistically leapfrog one or two players.

SI.com’s Albert Breer wrote this week about the Vikings’ pursuit of McCarthy, “They also had plans in motion for quarterbacks coaches Josh McCown and Grant Udinski to be in Ann Arbor for Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy’s pro day this Friday. Minnesota also arranged a private workout on campus with McCarthy for next week, with O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah set to make that trip.”

Mock Draft Attaches
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

McCarthy is 6’3″ and 220 pounds. He turned 21 in January, 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 or another team — hopefully.

Overall, adjust your expectations. He is not the little engine that could of this draft.


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 OverTheCap.com.

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