ESPN Heavy Hitters Predict Vikings QB Draft Pick

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The Minnesota Vikings need a new quarterback if they don’t fully trust veteran Sam Darnold for the long haul. Kirk Cousins left the organization after six seasons last month, and Minnesota is expected to find his replacement in 10 days.

ESPN Heavy Hitters Predict Vikings QB Draft Pick

A month ago, Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah pulled off a pre-draft trade, sending two 2nd-Round picks to Houston for the Texans’ 2024 1st-Rounder (Pick No. 23) and a late-round pick swap. The maneuver gave Adofo-Mensah more 1st-Round ammunition than other quarterback-needy teams to move up the board again on draft night. Most expect that to happen.

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J. McCarthy (9) takes a moment to watch TCU celebrate after Michigan lost, 51-45, at the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 31, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. © Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK.

And according to ESPN, in a mock draft authored by Mel Kiper, Field Yates, and Jordan Reid, Minnesota will end up with Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy after a trade with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Kiper was in charge of Minnesota’s trade and pick. He explained, “Because I have the odd-numbered picks in this three-round draft, I ended up with everything I needed to make this deal happen myself. So, here’s what it would look like: Vikings get: No. 5 | Chargers get: Nos. 11 and 23 plus a first-round pick in 2025.”

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Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

McCarthy is a popular draft candidate for the purple team, so the idea is nothing new. “The Vikings are going to have to move up if they want to guarantee getting the fourth quarterback off the board. The Chargers can pick up valuable capital in their mini-rebuild — maybe more like a remodeling job — under Jim Harbaugh,” Kiper continued.

For context, ESPN opted for a predictable fall of the draft board before the Vikings prediction, dropping Caleb Williams onto the Chicago Bears’ roster, Jayden Daniels to the Washington Commanders, and Drake Maye to the New England Patriots.

Vikings Vegas Odds
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Kiper concluded about McCarthy to Minnesota: “Did you expect a different quarterback here? Giving up that 2025 pick is going to hurt for Minnesota, but it would be worth it if the organization feels McCarthy can be the guy. There’s some risk involved— McCarthy was never asked to carry the load with his arm in college — but his physical tools are appealing.”

McCarthy began his draft journey in December as a 2nd-Round prospect, and few questioned the placement. Then, however, his Wolverines won the National Championship over the Washington Huskies in January, creating a mighty draft board climb for the young passer. He’s close to a lock as a Top 5 selection in mid-April.

Meanwhile, the Vikings hold the top odds leaguewide to choose McCarthy, situated around a +100 or +115 moneyline per most sportsbooks as of April 15th. The New York Giants lurk, too, with decent odds around +350.

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McCarthy just turned 21 in January and checked in at 6’3″ and 219 pounds at the NFL Combine. He’s mobile, can make all the throws required to succeed in the NFL, and is an eternal optimist and a “culture guy,” like Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell.

Kiper also mock-drafted McCarthy to the Vikings in his standalone version last week without input from Yates or Reid. So, the man is evidently hellbent on the McCarthy-to-Minnesota marriage.

The Vikings have never drafted a quarterback in the Top 10 despite 17 chances.

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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