Vikings Draft Target Draws Familiar Comparison

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After overhauling the defense in free agency and filling most holes of the roster, adding a franchise quarterback is at the top of the to-do list for general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah when the draft kicks off on April 25. The executive has added another first-rounder to be in a perfect position to trade into the first five picks to secure one of the top guys.

Vikings Draft Target Draws Familiar Comparison

Vikings Draft Target Draws Familiar Comparison
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Three names are in play for Minnesota early in the draft: Jayden Daniels from LSU, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, and Michigan’s national champion J.J. McCarthy.

Daniels is expected to be the second player off the board when Washington is on the clock. It seems to be a two-man race between Maye and McCarthy to become Kirk Cousins’ successor. Every pundit has a different opinion about those guys, and the debates are endless. At the end of the day, the draft is a guessing game for experts and teams.

Betting Odds for Kirk
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The latest comparison for McCarthy is a rather funny one for Vikings fans as it is Cousins, his potential predecessor. Dan Orlovsy, nowadays an ESPN analyst but formerly a Lions quarterback, famous for stepping out of the endzone while chased by Jared Allen, compared the two.

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.

Dan Orlovsky, ESPN

Comparing draft prospects to pro players is always tricky because there are no rules. Some compare the physical tools; others compare play style or the projected level of play.

Orlovsky, apparently, compared their skill sets. Cousins, indeed, has an underrated arm and can make every throw in the book, perhaps outside of a handful of passes that only guys like Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, the upper echelon of arm talent, can pull off.

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Other than that, Cousins can reliably complete the play, whether it is a 50-yard go-route, a corner route, or a simple slant. McCarthy is also fairly accurate, but his arm strength is underrated. His mechanics are advanced. Similar to Cousins, he does not produce many errant throws. Both possess a good feel for the game, and time passes well.

Another comparable aspect is their size. McCarthy’s measurements at the combine were good news as he could debunk the weight concerns. He was measured at 6’2.5″ and 219 lbs. The Falcons list his height and weight at 6’3″ and 205 lbs, although he weighed 214 lbs at his combine 12 years ago.

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.

McCarthy can execute plays in structure exactly how the coach wants him to, which was his primary job at Michigan. He was rarely asked to create when a play was breaking down, while Cousins has always had the flaw that he wasn’t good at it. However, McCarthy has flashed that ability and is a good passer on the run while showcasing his scrambling skills. While he did not run a 40-yard dash, running a sub-4.6 time wouldn’t be too surprising. The rushing element is another difference between the two.

Cousins has been a volume thrower in recent years, having to carry the offensive with his arm. McCarthy, meanwhile, dropped back only 22 times per game. He has yet to prove that he can replicate Cousins’ usage rate.

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.

The Vikings have the best odds of landing McCarthy on April 25. He has been a riser in the draft cycle and would be a solid fit in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

McCarthy features Cousins’ best attributes while adding some other elements, especially from an athletic standpoint. However, it remains to be seen if that talent translates to the NFL.

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