Vikings Evidently Have One Microscope Player

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From here forward, Minnesota Vikings football is all about one man, and he’s the rookie quarterback from Michigan.

Vikings Evidently Have One Microscope Player

J.J. McCarthy’s maturation — almost by itself — will determine the course of Vikings football through the next half-decade. If he’s the real deal, Minnesota can contend for a Super Bowl. Should he flounder, well, the purple team would be back to the drawing board in 3-5 years.

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And that’s evidently why The Athletic defined McCarthy as the Vikings’ one player under a microscope this week. Mike Jones identified one microscope player from each team, and it’s McCarthy for Minnesota. “The Vikings signed 2018 draft bust-turned-journeyman Sam Darnold as an insurance policy after losing Kirk Cousins to the Falcons. Minnesota then used the 10th pick on McCarthy, who helped Michigan win the national title, and hopes to bring his winning ways to the Vikings,” Jones wrote.

Minnesota found McCarthy with the draft’s 10th overall pick after a trade up one rung on the ladder with the New York Jets. For weeks, if not months, Vikings fans wondered if the franchise would donate multiple 1st-Rounders for a new quarterback. The answer was no with McCarthy.

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“There’s no guarantee McCarthy will start initially. Kevin O’Connell will give the rookie time to learn the system and acclimate to the NFL before making a determination. However, every snap of the offseason is crucial to McCarthy’s development,” Jones concluded.

McCarthy told reporters on Friday about his comfort level with Kevin O’Connell’s offense, “It didn’t feel like my first day. I’ve been going over the offense for a long time now. So being able to go out there and perform and execute, that’s new, but it was nothing that was overwhelming or too much.”

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Minnesota Vikings 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

While McCarthy will be under a microscope, newcomer passer Sam Darnold is on deck to start in Week 1. According to ESPN, Darnold is on tap for QB1 duties, at least per first-team reps next week when the team convenes for organized team activities. Kevin Seifert wrote on Friday, “It is fully expected that veteran Sam Darnold will be taking the first-team reps when veterans begin football activities next week, but O’Connell did make a point to note that McCarthy’s recall of their previous schematic work ‘jumped out right away.'”

Darnold is also the sportsbooks’ favorite to start for the Vikings in September, meaning McCarthy would probably need a wonderful summer to dethrone the veteran.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Other microscope candidates mentioned by The Athletic? Russell Wilson in Pittsburgh, Kirk Cousins in Atlanta, and Daniel Jones in New York along with 27 others.

Vikings mandatory minicamp begins in three weeks.


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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