This Is the QB for Vikings to Avoid at 11

Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings currently hold the 11th overall pick in April’s upcoming draft. Plenty of steam suggests they will look at the quarterback class, and with good reason. If there’s one to avoid, though, it’s Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy.

This Is the QB for Vikings to Avoid at 11

Before Jim Harbaugh left Michigan at the altar, he took the Wolverines to the College Football Playoff and captured the title with a National Championship Game victory over Michael Penix Jr. and the Washington Huskies. The tilt had plenty of star talent, but a big talking point was the strength both teams possessed at the quarterback position. It was Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy who came out on top, but now the pair will battle for positioning during the NFL Draft.

for Vikings to Avoid
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.

Although there is a clear consensus about who the top three quarterbacks are, things get murky behind Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels. The next threesome is seen as Penix Jr., McCarthy, and Oregon’s Bo Nix. None of them may need to be taken as high as Minnesota’s 11th overall selection, but all three could also go in the first round. It might make sense to trade back if the plan is to grab one of those signal callers, but tying future hopes to McCarthy seems to present the most risk.

Having started for the Wolverines each of the past two seasons, McCarthy began to shine as a sophomore. Starting 14 games in 2022, he threw for over 2,700 yards with a 22/5 TD/INT ratio. He put up a 64% completion rate, but it was in 2023 that the numbers got truly insane. Completing more than 72% of his passes for nearly 3,000 yards, McCarthy doubled down with a 22/4 TD/INT ratio and was one of the most dynamic parts of Michigan’s offense.

Nov 25, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the second half of the NCAA football game against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Ohio State lost 30-24. © Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The former Wolverines quarterback is not the scrambler that LSU’s Daniels is, but he certainly has a level of mobility that makes him more than capable of escaping pressure. The Vikings haven’t possessed that sort of dual-threat ability since Daunte Culpepper’s height. Almost all of the top talents for this draft cycle possess that ability, which makes the prospect of bringing in a quarterback of this ilk much more exciting.

For McCarthy, though, when he gets lost, you start to worry. Despite the gaudy numbers, there were more than a few clunkers along the way. He threw three interceptions against a bad Bowling Green team, and in five of his final six collegiate games, he failed to top 200 yards. The showing against Alabama was impressive, but it was evident that the game plan was to work on the ground against top competition like Ohio State and Washington.

Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards were about as strong of a safety blanket as you could get for McCarthy. Each of them averaged more than four yards per carry, and Corum has the chops to buck trends in being a first-round selection as a running back. McCarthy didn’t have the wide receiver weapons that Ohio State or Washington possessed, but it rarely felt like he could take over a game alone.

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.

It’s not as though McCarthy can’t or won’t be special at the next level, but among those considered at the top of draft boards, his highlight-worthy contests would definitely be the most watered down. Maybe this winds up aging poorly and he quickly becomes one of the most productive starters from this class, but if there’s a quarterback this writer wants Minnesota to avoid, it’s the guy from Michigan playing in a mediocre Big Ten.

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.