It’s QB in Latest ESPN Vikings Mock Draft

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The Minnesota Vikings have 51 days to decide on a preference for its 1st-Round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. And according to ESPN’s latest theory, the Vikings mock draft will feature a quarterback out of the gate.

It’s QB in Latest ESPN Vikings Mock Draft

Minnesota will pick 11th on April 25th if it doesn’t trade up or down the board, its highest placement since 2015 when Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer chose cornerback Trae Waynes of Michigan State. The purple team also hasn’t selected a quarterback in Round 1 since 2014, and ESPN evidently believes the time is now to end the drought.

Vikings Mock Draft
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.

Jordan Reid authored the latest mock for ESPN, and at No. 11, he connected Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy to the Vikings. McCarthy has become a draft darling for Vikings fans and NFL pundits, so the pick by Reid checks out.

Reid explained the choice, “We obviously don’t know if free agent Kirk Cousins will return to Minnesota, but McCarthy fits coach Kevin O’Connell’s scheme so well. Yes, the passing sample size is limited — he only hit 25 or more passing attempts in 12 of 28 career starts — and his combine workout was inconsistent, but his efficiency at Michigan is noteworthy (72.3% completion rate).”

Mock Draft Attaches
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McCarthy just turned 21 in January, equipped with youth and the steam of a National Championship accompanying his draft profile. Some theorized McCarthy as a 2nd-Round pick not long ago, but his stock has risen recently. Immensely.

“The infrastructure in Minnesota — with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson catching passes — is set up well for a young signal-caller to grow, too,” Reid added.

Shy about Trading
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In Round 2, Reid hedged the bet for all sides of the Vikings’ operations, mock-drafting defensive tackle Kris Jenkins — also from Michigan — to Minnesota with the 42nd pick. He wrote about Jenkins in purple. “Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has leaned on explosiveness in defensive prospects since taking over as Minnesota’s GM. Jenkins has those traits — he posted a 30-inch vertical at 299 pounds — and the Vikings’ defensive line could be headed for some turnover.”

On McCarthy, he’s 6’3″ and 220 pounds. It is unclear if McCarthy would be ready on Day One for the Vikings — perhaps not — but he could watch and learn behind Kirk Cousins for a year or two if Minnesota plans on re-signing the incumbent QB1.

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If the Vikings do not re-sign Cousins — that’s in serious jeopardy at the moment — Minnesota would either roll with McCarthy right away in September, use QB2 Nick Mullens in a patchover capacity, or explore free agency for a “bridge quarterback” like Russell Wilson or Drew Lock.

McCarthy possesses all the tangible traits needed to translate in the NFL. The only knocks on his resume include deep-ball touch toward the sidelines and the fact that the Wolverines didn’t require him to throw the ball all too often. Hopefully, an NFL coach, possibly Kevin O’Connell, can fix both items.

The Vikings are also frequently mentioned as suitors to trade up the board in April, possibly eyeing North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels if McCarthy isn’t on their radar.

More will be learned about the Vikings’ draft plans after the Cousins decision, presumably next week.

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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