Can J.J. McCarthy Have a Better Year than the Top Trio?

Draft Prediction
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When the Minnesota Vikings were first exploring options with their first-round draft picks this April, all of the quarterbacks were in play. While they weren’t going to get Caleb Williams away from the Chicago Bears, both Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye were possibilities. Despite landing on J.J. McCarthy, how plausible is it that their choice has the best year?

Can J.J. McCarthy Have a Better Year than the Top Trio?

The reality is that none of those three quarterbacks should be expected to ride the bench during the first week of the season. J.J. McCarthy shouldn’t be expected to start Week 1, and he may not even start for half of the season. That’s sort of where this line of thinking comes in. McCarthy will have an opportunity to watch, observe, and show readiness before simply taking his lumps on the field.

J.J. McCarthy
December 31, 2022; Glendale, Ariz; USA; Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy (9) throws a pass during the pregame before the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Ncaa Fiesta Bowl Game

Caleb Williams joins a Chicago Bears team that has struggled to support any starting quarterback in any capacity of late. He might be different, and adding players like D.J. Moore, Rome Odunze, and D’Andre Swift is a good way to get him some help. He is still stepping into a situation where the expectations are sky-high, and he has only talked the talk to increase them.

Daniels and Maye are in much worse spots than McCarthy regarding the weapons around them. From an ability-to-succeed standpoint, each would have been better served being drafted by the Vikings, and they are well aware of this. It’s not a lock that either will start Week 1, but the reality is that both the Commanders and Patriots need their new quarterbacks to be immediate difference makers.

NFL Draft
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The likelihood that McCarthy produces statlines anywhere near the other rookie quarterbacks is unlikely. He simply isn’t going to have the same opportunity, and while you could measure him on a per-game basis, the totals will lag. That also means he will presumably avoid some of the more difficult games at the top of the schedule, and that could set him up in more ideal situations later.

If McCarthy doesn’t play at all for Minnesota in year one, so be it. He will still have the opportunity to look at his draft class, decide if he wants to be forced into action, and put up the numbers they did. We’ll have to see where those fall, but regardless, there is a real chance for McCarthy to have a good or better year than some of his peers.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.