Vikings Draft Choice Formally Predicted by ESPN Analyst

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It is an exciting time in Skol Nation, as the Minnesota Vikings are waiting for the NFL draft on April 25. Following the exit of six-year starter Kirk Cousins, the franchise needs a new passer. Considering the trade they have already made to acquire an additional first-rounder, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah wants to shake up the draft order by moving into the top five of the event.

Vikings Draft Choice Formally Predicted by ESPN Analyst

ESPN Analyst Formally Predicts Vikings Draft Choice
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Minnesota’s wishlist likely includes some combination of four quarterbacks: Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jayden Daniels, and J.J. McCarthy. Predicting the team’s preference is impossible.

Williams is widely expected to be the Chicago Bears’ first overall choice. Behind him, the draft begins. The Washington Commanders are rumored to be intrigued by Jayden Daniels, but nobody would be shocked if they picked a different guy. The Patriots currently hold the third pick, and the Cardinals are fourth in the draft order.

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The Vikings must likely move up into the first five picks to draft one of those signal-callers; the higher they go, the more expensive the trade package is, for obvious reasons. ESPN’s Matt Miller envisions Minnesota swapping picks with the Cardinals and drafting McCarthy fourth overall. It costs them both first-rounders in 2024 and 2025’s top choice.

McCarthy (No. 22 on my board) would be entering the best situation for any of the rookie quarterbacks. The Vikings have a former NFL quarterback as their coach in Kevin O’Connell and an elite wide receiver duo of Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison — not to mention a great tackle combination of Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill.

McCarthy’s accuracy, toughness and pocket mobility have him set up to perform well in this structure right out of the gate. And he knows how to win games; he went 27-1 at Michigan and won a national title. With McCarthy captaining this offense, the Vikings would have legitimate playoff aspirations in the NFC North.

Matt Miller, ESPN
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The Vikings are universally viewed as the dream situation for rookie passers because of the aspects Miller mentioned. An offense that features Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson while having solidified the offensive tackles and employing an offensive-minded head coach is the perfect spot for a young QB.

McCarthy offers an intriguing skillset for head coach Kevin O’Connell because he can make the throws his offense requires and spent his college days in a pro-style offense. His arm strength, the ability to make plays on and off schedule, and the athleticism check all the boxes. But Miller highlighted some concerns.

That said, Michigan’s offense was very run-heavy, and McCarthy had the fewest passing attempts last season (332) of any QB projected to be selected in the top three rounds of this year’s draft. The Vikings’ scheme would be a good fit for McCarthy, given his touch and timing traits from within the pocket, but as a 28-game starter in college, he might benefit from sitting behind Darnold for at least part of his rookie season.

Matt Miller, ESPN
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.

Everything that would benefit McCarthy in his debut season will also benefit Sam Darnold. The former third-overall hopes to elevate his game in the best circumstances he has had as a starter. With Minnesota not really expected to compete in the upcoming season, McCarthy could sit behind him for some time, perhaps even for the entire season.

According to Draft Kings, the Vikings have the top odds of landing McCarthy in the draft. The 21-year-old national champion would be set up for success in Minnesota because of the exceptional supporting cast.

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