USA Today Mock Draft Echoes Recent Tendency for Vikings

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota Vikings fans have used the last two weeks to talk each other into Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy as a viable QB1 option for the future.

USA Today Mock Draft Echoes Recent Tendency for Vikings

Something unknown happened, and everyone realized McCarthy was more than just a “game manager” at the University of Michigan. And because the young passer may be gettable 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 Kirk Cousins’ heir apparent.

Today Mock Draft
Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Minnesota has three weeks to decide Cousins’ free-agent future, and his fate would go either way.

Mock drafts have echoed McCarthyMania, too. He’s become the fashionable pick for Minnesota in April, and USA Today’s recent mock is no different. With a stick-and-pick at No. 11 (no trade needed), Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz explained the Vikings selection, “McCarthy would no doubt provide something different than Kirk Cousins does, and pairing Justin Jefferson with an athletic passer capable of whipping throws into tight windows would give the Vikings fascinating long-term upside. But would McCarthy be ready to take the reins as a rookie if Cousins signs elsewhere?”

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.

Gets the CNN
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In the same USA Today mock draft, Nate Davis added, as well, about McCarthy to Minnesota, “Will the Vikes re-sign Kirk Cousins, 35? Even if they do, wouldn’t it be wise to take a page from the division rival Pack’s playbook and get his successor into the building? McCarthy won big in college (27-1 record) while developing into an accurate passer who rarely made bad decisions, all traits that will make NFL evaluators take notice.”

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

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The 6’3″ and 200-pounder turned 21 last month, so he’s extraordinarily young, especially by recent draft class’ standards. It is unclear if McCarthy could be ready on Day One for the Vikings — probably not — but he could watch and learn behind Kirk Cousins for a year or two if Minnesota plans on re-signing the incumbent QB1.

The Vikings haven’t drafted a quarterback in Rounds 1 or 2 since 2014, when they called Teddy Bridgewater’s name with the 32nd pick.

Willing to Make Splashy
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

Others, like Fantasy Pro’s Thor Nystrom, are extraordinarily high on McCarthy’s ceiling in the NFL.

The draft is nine weeks away.

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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