Vikings Favored to Land Rising QB Prospect

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Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is again in the spotlight during his third offseason in charge of football operations. His main task is to fill the QB position for the upcoming season, as Kirk Cousins is scheduled to be a free agent in March. Re-signing him or finding his successor should be the main priority in the next few months.

Vikings Favored to Land Rising QB Prospect

Vikings Favored to Land Rising QB Prospect
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One look at the free agency market highlights that he won’t find a long-term solution that way. Besides Cousins, the top candidates are Sam Darnold, Gardner Minshew, Ryan Tannehill, and Baker Mayfield, who is expected to re-sign in Tampa Bay. Nick Mullens and Jaren Hall are under contract for another season. None of those guys should be more than a bridge starter for a handful of weeks before a rookie is inserted.

Of course, that could be Minnesota’s route in 2024. While they are out of reach of the expected first two picks, Caleb Williams and Drake Maye, there has been some buzz about Jayden Daniels uniting with fellow former LSU star Justin Jefferson. That would take a costly trade.

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy celebrates after the 34-13 win over Washington to win the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

More likely is the acquisition of Michigan’s signal caller, J.J. McCarthy. He didn’t quite light up the stat sheets like Daniels in his final season in school, but it ended with the national championship title.

Interestingly, according to DraftKings, the Vikings are favored to land the 21-year-old in April’s draft; their odds are at (+300), followed by Denver and Seattle, who both sit at (+600).

The hype for McCarthy started after he was stuck in the second tier with Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. He is now talked about in a sentence with Daniels instead.

In his true freshman season in 2021, McCarthy was Michigan’s backup, throwing for 516 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Facing competition for the starting role entering his second season, he ultimately won the job in Week 2, finishing the campaign with 2,719 yards, 22 touchdowns, and five picks. Michigan also made a trip to the postseason with him under center.

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.

Returning for a third season, this time as the unquestioned starter, McCarthy tabulated 22 touchdowns and 2,991 yards while only committing four interceptions, leading Michigan to the championship.

However, everyone who watched at least one game or looked at the numbers knows he was not the driving force of success in Ann Arbor. A great defense and a strong running game allowed him to step into the game-manager role.

That raises the question of why the Vikings should consider drafting him. He just turned 21, so there should be plenty of upside, and he simply wasn’t asked to showcase his talent. The QB has also shown that he can make plays when asked to in crucial situations, and he offers decent athleticism as well as a solid arm. His best aspect is likely the ability to execute plays how they are drawn up while not making many mistakes.

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Head coach Kevin O’Connell needs someone who can push the ball down the field and feed his star playmakers Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson. When he schemes one of those guys open, his passer must get the ball in the right spot at the right time. That’s where Joshua Dobbs failed. If he thinks McCarthy’s traits are worth the pick, he will probably convince Adofo-Mensah to pull the trigger, as the duo must find their guy at some point.

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