Vikings Could Apparently Draft Kirk Cousins 2.0

Kirk Cousins
Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports.

A new quarterback could arrive shortly in Minnesota as the franchise is trying to replace Kirk Cousins after six years of solid play under center. His departure left a void at the most critical position in the sport. Teams without a decent passer don’t win Super Bowls, and since that’s the ultimate goal, a guy like signing Sam Darnold can’t be the long-term solution.

Vikings Could Apparently Draft Kirk Cousins 2.0

Vikings Could Apparently Draft Kirk Cousins 2.0
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, entering his third NFL draft in charge of the organization, has traded for the 23rd pick. His objective seems to be to package picks 11 and 23 (and potentially some additional assets) to enter the top five of the draft.

Drake Maye out of North Carolina, Jayden Daniels, LSU’s Heisman winner, and Michigan’s national champion J.J. McCarthy are the potential targets for Minnesota. All three have intriguing skill sets, but only one guy reminds pundits of the departed four-time Pro Bowler.

Betting Odds for Kirk
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports.

Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report, predicted McCarthy’s NFL future as a “more mobile Kirk Cousins.”

There isn’t much McCarthy doesn’t do relatively well. But he doesn’t anything exceptionally well, he tends to hold the ball longer than many of the other prospects in the class and he has less than half the passing attempts in college that Daniels did.

If McCarthy doesn’t land with a team that can accentuate his strengths and disguise his shortcomings, he’s going to be looked back on as a reach three years from now.

Gary Davenport, Bleacher Report

McCarthy is a fascinating prospect. He won all but one game in the last two seasons at Michigan, but he did it on an offense that didn’t rely on him to the extent North Carolina’s crew did with Maye or LSU’s side that featured Daniels.

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.

In 2022 and 2023, McCarthy only passed 654 times for roughly 5,700 yards and 44 scores. He hasn’t shown that he can carry a team to the promised land. Star quarterbacks at the next level must have that skill set.

However, the 21-year-old possesses some fascinating traits, such as a strong arm and the ability to thread the needle on short and intermediate throws. In the pocket, he is always calm and never enters panic mode. When it comes to third-down plays, and he is asked to make a play, McCarthy is at his best.

Former NFL QB and now ESPN analyst also compared Cousins and McCarthy but didn’t include the mobility aspect: “McCarthy and Cousins play with a high level of conviction and routinely make difficult throws from the pocket look easier than they should. The former Michigan quarterback has his eyes and arm tied to his feet on when and where to throw the ball.”

Excellent mechanics allow Cousins and McCarthy to hit throws repeatedly, and they share an underrated arm.

Vikings Top Draft Target
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.

The one advantage McCarthy has over Cousins is, indeed, his athleticism. In the last two seasons, the Michigan prospect collected 508 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. It should be noted that in college football, unlike in the NFL, the sack yards count against that total. Cousins ran for 122 yards in the last two seasons but lost 439 sack yards.

But McCarthy doesn’t only showcase his speed as a runner but also as a passer; escaping the pocket and throwing on the run is a positive in his scouting report.

Ultimately, if McCarthy turns into Cousins with added mobility, the veteran’s worst flaw, Vikings fans would be thrilled with him. Cousins could enter the top ten in passing yards and touchdowns in a few years and is a perennial Pro Bowl candidate.

Minnesota has the top odds to land McCarthy in the draft on April 25.

Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt