One Vikings Draft Prospect Called “Not a Smokescreen”

The Odds-On Favorite for Vikings Pick in 1st Round of Draft
NFL Draft

This month and next are notorious for falsehoods about players’ draft stock and placement. Tennessee Titans quarterback Malik Willis can tell you all about it.

One Vikings Draft Prospect Called “Not a Smokescreen”

But one man who has experienced a mega climb on the draftboard doesn’t fall into that category, says’s Daniel Jeremiah.

Vikings Draft Prospect
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

And that smokescreen eschewer is Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. Jeremiah said this week, “I put it out in my last mock draft, and I have quarterbacks going one through four … I’m talking to teams that are in the Quarterback market, and teams that aren’t … JJ McCarthy is really highly thought of, and that’s not a smokescreen.”

Back in December, when credible mock drafts were just getting off the ground, McCarthy was forecasted as a 2nd-Rounder. Fast forward to March, and the man is damn near a Top 5 prospect in all mocks.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

Too, Jeremiah’s opinion aligns with others’.’s Tom Pelissero recently mentioned about McCarthy: “It’s been really interesting because everybody is always trying to figure out — especially at the top of the draft — what the other teams are doing. When I’ve had conversations here with executives for other teams who know [Washington GM] Adam Peters well, know the situation well, the most popular answer for what they do at No. 2 is J.J. McCarthy. So a lot of drama still to come.”

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Matt Miller opined this week that the Vikings will be aggressive for McCarthy. He provided evidence, citing Minnesota’s ardor for McCarthy and would-be aggressive trade pursuit for the Wolverine. “The Vikings sent neither general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah nor coach Kevin O’Connell to the Michigan pro day Friday, but quarterbacks coach Josh McCown was firmly planted right behind McCarthy during his 25-minute throwing session,” Miller wrote about Minnesota’s representation at McCarthy’s Pro Day.

Vikings to Hit Free Agent Market for Answers
Kwesi Adofo-Mensah

Then, Miller spiced it up, “In talking to NFL personnel while on the road at pro days this week, the feeling is still the Vikings will be aggressive in trading up to the No. 4 or No. 5 spot to land the Michigan quarterback. One general manager I talked to this week said McCarthy is a top-six pick right now. The question is who will trade up to get him.”

Sportsbooks believe McCarthy will likely become a Viking in 2024 and beyond, listing Minnesota with a -105 moneyline for his services. No other NFL team bests that. Twelve days ago, the Vikings pulled off an unforeseen 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 move positioned Adofo-Mensah to move up in the draft via second trade, which could hit at any minute or on draft night. Many believe McCarthy is the Vikings’ target.

Forced by Broncos
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.

Kirk Cousins quarterbacked the Vikings for six seasons between 2018 and 2023 but hit free agency two weeks ago. With perhaps a little bit of tampering involved, Cousins left Minnesota for the irresistible money dangled by the Atlanta Falcons, seizing a four-year deal worth $180 million. The Cousins Era is over, and Minnesota, as an insurance policy, added veteran passer Sam Darnold the day after Cousins-to-Atlanta news broke. Many Vikings believe it will be the Darnold and McCarthy show next season in Minneapolis.

There are still 29 days before the draft, but it’s time to accept McCarthy as a top prospect — not just a “Will Levis thing” or “Malik Willis thing.” It might be more similar to Baker Mayfield six years ago.

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