Vikings Rookie Snubbed from Rookie of the Year Rankings

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Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy makes a pass against Alabama linebacker Dallas Turner during the first half of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The Minnesota Vikings entered April’s NFL draft with two first-round picks, and everyone expected them to trade those picks for a passer. General manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah has consistently stated that the second pick would give them more flexibility than an automatic trade. Indeed, the Vikings landed not just one but two highly-touted prospects.

Vikings Rookie Snubbed from Rookie of the Year Rankings

Vikings Rookie Snubbed from Rookie of the Year Rankings
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before the Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Of course, those two premier rookies come with high expectations. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who the Vikings selected with the tenth overall pick after a minor trade up the board, enters a fantastic situation with plenty of weapons, a solid and recently reinforced offensive line, and an offensive-minded head coach.

Defender Dallas Turner was picked 17th overall after Adofo-Mensah negotiated a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars that primarily included pick 23. Many first-year pass-rushers need time to grow, but Turner possesses the skills to make a difference early in his career, and coordinator Brian Flores will help scheme him in the correct positions to feast. He has already drawn praise from a teammate.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The two 21-year-olds could be in the race for Rookie of the Year consideration. However, CBS Sports analyst Chris Trapasso doesn’t like McCarthy’s chances. He snubbed him from his list of the top eight candidates for the hardware on the offensive side of the ball.

  1. Caleb Williams, CHI
  2. Malik Nabers, NYG
  3. Jayden Daniels, WAS
  4. Marvin Harrison Jr., ARI
  5. Xavier Worthy, KC
  6. Drake Maye, NE
  7. Ladd McConkey, LAC
  8. Keon Coleman, BUF

Quarterbacks are usually primed to win awards, and Minnesota’s passer has the skillset and the surroundings to produce the required numbers to draw some consideration.

However, the one caveat is likely why Trapasso hasn’t included him among the other three quarterbacks: How much he will play is unclear. Chicago has already named first-overall pick Caleb Williams the starter for 2024, while Jayden Daniels only competes with fellow Heisman winner Marcus Mariota for the gig in Washington, and he should be favored to beat the veteran.

Drake Maye, meanwhile, is a fascinating choice. It is fair to wonder whether the Patriots stick with Jacoby Brissett, considering their offensive supporting cast doesn’t help Maye develop. Brissett was also pretty good in the last few seasons.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Sam Darnold addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center during OTAs. Darnold joined the Vikings’ roster in March 2024 during free agency, on deck as a Kirk Cousins replacement and sharing the QB room later with rookie passer J.J. McCarthy of Michigan.

McCarthy is facing Sam Darnold’s competition. The former third-overall pick is a known high performer in training camp, but when the live reps in the regular season begin, he usually loses his magic and returns to his true form as a backup quarterback.

The counterpoint to the warranted criticism is that Darnold hasn’t been around an offensive group as talented as Minnesota’s. Throwing to Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison while sitting in a solid pocket with elite tackles Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill can only help his numbers. Head coach Kevin O’Connell knows how to call an offense to make his QBs look good, as he has proven with inferior signal-callers last year.

new qb
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

DraftKings considers McCarthy the fourth most likely to win the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award. He would benefit from the same advantages as Darnold, but he must beat out the veteran out of the gate or within a few weeks to be considered.

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