Jim Harbaugh — Yes, Him — Could Dictate Vikings’ Next QB

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

The conduit to the Minnesota Vikings quarterback of the future could be Jim Harbaugh.

Jim Harbaugh — Yes, Him — Could Dictate Vikings’ Next QB

And, yes, he’s the same man the Vikings nearly hired two years ago as a head coach, but now he works as the boss of the Los Angeles Chargers. His team owns the draft’s fifth overall pick, which could be prime territory for Minnesota if it doesn’t trade into the Top 3 for North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

Rookie QB
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.

The target would be J.J. McCarthy, also known as Harbaugh’s QB1 at the University of Michigan, a squad that won the National Championship in January. According to SI.com’s Albert Breer, Harbaugh may call the shots for McCarthy’s first NFL team.

“I was talking to someone last week who knows Los Angeles Chargers coach Jim Harbaugh very well, and asked about his over-the-top praise of McCarthy, which has gone well beyond what you’d normally hear from a college coach talking about a quarterback. This person explained it by laying out Harbaugh’s approach with his teams—and how he’s always treated his quarterbacks almost like they’re his sons,” Breer wrote Wednesday, one day before the draft.

jim harbaugh
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

He then mentioned the would-be Harbaugh dictation, “So it shouldn’t be surprising that Harbaugh, sitting there at 5, could dictate McCarthy’s landing spot, should the Cardinals stick at 4. And if he were to do McCarthy a solid, the most obvious place to send him, of course, would be Minnesota.”

McCarthy has been linked to the Vikings for about 2-3 months in the draft machine, a sensible landing spot because Minnesota has offensive weaponry and a coaching staff to die for regarding grooming a rookie quarterback.

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh lifts up the Rose Bowl trophy after 27-20 win over Alabama at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, Calif. on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

At pick No. 5, if Minnesota does not land the aforementioned Maye, Kwesi Adofo-Mensah could call the Chargers and hope to box out other quarterback-needy teams like the Denver Broncos and Las Vegas Raiders, two clubs that just so happen to be Harbaugh’s new division rivals. He’d presumably trade for Harbaugh’s fifth overall pick, and McCarthy to Minnesota would come to fruition.

“I’ve been to a lot of pro day workouts. That was the best I’ve ever seen from a quarterback. That was the best throwing day I’ve ever seen,” Harbaugh said about McCarthy in March.

“I think he’s the best quarterback in the draft,” Harbaugh added, calling his Michigan quarterback a “killer.”

Vikings QB
Michigan quarterback J.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.

Instead of smushing his son-like quarterback onto the Broncos’ or Raiders’ rosters, Harbaugh could be more than happy to send McCarthy north with the Vikings, a spot where he’d face a decent chance to succeed.

The Vikings have never used a Top 10 draft pick on a quarterback, so McCarthy, Maye, or anybody would make history for the purple team.

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.