J.J. McCarthy Has Sweet Vegas Odds for Week 1

Vikings mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy looks to pass against Indiana during the second half of U-M's 52-7 win over Indiana on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023, in Ann Arbor. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Kirk Cousins left the Minnesota Vikings seven weeks ago, joining the Atlanta Falcons for four years and $180 million, and then that franchise drafted his replacement last week.

J.J. McCarthy Has Sweet Vegas Odds for Week 1

Minnesota used Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft to select quarterback J.J. McCarthy of Michigan and outside linebacker Dallas Turner from Alabama. Almost no Vikings fans thought both men were gettable, as general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah was expected to trade his 1st-Round assets for a quarterback of the future. But on draft night, McCarthy slid to pick No. 10, where Adof0-Mensah pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Jets — while keeping his 23rd overall pick in-house. He then chose Turner after a pricey trade to the 17th spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

Minnesota 2024 NFL Draft. Watch as QB J.J. McCarthy addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center on Friday. The Vikings traded up one spot on the draftboard with the New York Jets for McCarthy.

Naturally, right after the draft, folks began to wonder when McCarthy might take the QB1 mantle, as Sam Darnold is also in the mix on a one-year, $10 million deal. The answer, according to sportsbooks, is sooner rather than later.

McCarthy currently has +150 odds to be the Week 1 starter for Minnesota, which is about twice as likely as the Denver Nuggets (+280) winning the NBA Championship in June, if that can be believed.

Most of the prop bet will depend on McCarthy’s summer maturation. The Vikings — without any doubt — won’t rush the young Wolverine into anything, mainly because they don’t have to. That’s what Darnold is for.

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah said about McCarthy’s upcoming development last week, “A lot of times when we go back over history and say, ‘These quarterbacks have missed,’ there’s a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we’re going to make sure that our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense.”

Those words from Adofo-Mensah are pretty straightforward and even strongly hint at Darnold for September. On the other hand, McCarthy is game-ready compared to other quarterbacks from the recent class. For example, had Minnesota selected Drake Maye, who ended up in New England, most draft pundits insisted he might need a year on the bench to watch and learn. McCarthy’s scouting report isn’t necessarily like that. He could be ready as soon as autumn,

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ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained on Friday about Darnold-or-McCarthy, “The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O’Connell full authority to make the timing decision.”

It’s worth noting that McCarthy turned 21 in January, so he has plenty of time to acclimate. The man on tap to succeed Cousins in Atlanta, Michael Penix Jr., will turn 24 this month, for example.

Vegas Odds
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Seifert added, “The approach is designed to avoid the worst-case scenario — ruining McCarthy’s career by exposing him before he is ready — and is a big reason the Vikings spent $10 million in March to sign veteran Sam Darnold as a bridge starter. It’s a process O’Connell and Adofo-Mensah have been planning since meeting for the first time in 2022 during one of O’Connell’s final job interviews.”

Darnold is the frontrunner, but McCarthy is unusually close behind for Week 1 odds.

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).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by OverTheCap.com.