One Draft Tumble Could Be Music to Vikings’ Ears

purple rumor mill
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) signs autographs during the national championship celebration at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Perhaps the notion of J.J. McCarthy getting drafted in the Top 5 was overblown.

One Draft Tumble Could Be Music to Vikings’ Ears

That’s the latest and greatest theory about the Michigan quarterback — one that just so happens to be linked to the Minnesota Vikings.

Draft
December 31, 2022; Glendale, Ariz; USA; Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws a pass during the pregame before the Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Ncaa Fiesta Bowl Game

McCarthy began his draft voyage as a would-be 2nd-Round pick, but that changed in a hurry after his Wolverines won the National Championship in January. He’s now a no-brainer to leave the draftboard in Round 1.

But the where is fascinating. SI.com’s Albert Breer wrote Wednesday, draft eve, “As I see it, the Vikings are operating from a position of strength, and could very well call everyone’s bluff on needing to go up for a quarterback. For one, J.J. McCarthy may well make it to Minnesota at 11.”

Mock
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports.

McCarthy falling to pick No. 11 isn’t otherworldly, but it is a relatively new nugget inserted in the draft machine in the last few days.

He added, “For another, their situation is such where Kevin O’Connell and Kwesi Adofo-Mensah have the right to think, with cornerstones such as Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and Christian Darrisaw around the quarterback, that they can win with McCarthy or, say, Michael Penix Jr.”

Vikings Vegas Odds
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Penix Jr. could be the Vikings’ almighty insurance policy. If the club’s leadership secretly enjoys the Washington Huskies quarterback, it has the luxury of waiting to see McCarthy’s status Thursday night, knowing, “We can get Penix Jr. otherwise,” or some slogan to that effect.

Breer concluded, “Now, over the last week or so, Minnesota has gotten a little more aggressive on calling around. The Vikings could still move up to 4 or 5 for McCarthy. But I’m not quite as sure that they do that as I was a few weeks ago.”

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.

Generally speaking, a McCarthy draft tumble would be magnificent for Minnesota. It would alleviate the franchise of any mammoth leverage-the-future trade and enable Kwesi Adofo-Mensah to pick the best defensive player available at pick No. 23 after the McCarthy selection.

Now, however, it’s a matter of the tumble’s reality. The New York Giants may not let McCarthy escape their grasp at pick No. 6, or if he does, Minnesota may have to trade up to picks No. 7 or 8 to box out teams like the Denver Broncos or Las Vegas Raiders that could also pursue McCarthy via trade.

The takeaway? Just hours before the draft, the man allegedly on the Vikings’ draft radar might be available sans trading multiple 1st-Round assets. And knowing that a week ago would’ve been quite weird.


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.

Share: