Sportsbooks Have Surprising Odds for J.J. McCarthy

NFL Draft
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

If it’s not here already, the Minnesota Vikings top offseason talker will soon morph into, “When will J.J. McCarthy start?”

Sportsbooks Have Surprising Odds for J.J. McCarthy

Minnesota signed veteran quarterback Sam Darnold for a handsome $10 million in March, suggesting he’ll be featured as a patchover quarterback. Yet, with the selection of McCarthy on Thursday night, a prospect considered more game-ready than most, folks will rightfully wonder if McCarthy has the juice to usurp Darnold on the depth chart this summer.

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The Vikings used Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft to select McCarthy and outside linebacker Dallas Turner from Alabama. Almost no Vikings fan believed both men were attainable 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 fell to pick No. 10 where the young executive pulled the trigger on a trade with the New York Jets — while keeping his 23rd overall pick in-house. He then picked Turner after an expensive trade to the 17th spot with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And amid the upcoming Darnold vs. McCarthy debate, oddsmakers seem to believe the choice is a no-brainer: McCarthy will take over in 2024 sooner than expected. How is this known? Simple — McCarthy has around the fourth-best odds take home Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2024, a moneyline around +800.

mock draft
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) warms up before Ohio State game at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023. © Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK.

Caleb Williams (QB, Chicago Bears), Marvin Harrison Jr. (WR, Arizona Cardinals), and Jayden Daniels (QB, Washington Commanders) lead the way, but right after those three, it’s McCarthy.

Meanwhile, ESPN updated McCarthy’s progression plan soon after the draft. “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,” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained on Friday.

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The plan makes all the sense in the world, but a hefty faction of fans will want McCarthy to play right away, no matter what. In 2020, Justin Herbert took over QB1 duties immediately in Los Angeles — and prospered. Last year, C.J. Stroud did the same in Week 1 for Houston and rapidly emerged into a Top 10 quarterback. Naturally, Vikings faithful will want their guy to follow suit.

It just may not happen that quickly.

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Seifert continued, “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.”

General manager Adofo-Mensah said about McCarthy’s upcoming development, “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.”

Per Adofo-Mensah’s musings, it doesn’t sound like McCarthy will imminently start for the purple team. Yet, the +800 OROY moneyline is noteworthy and basically calls the Vikings’ bluff.

Vikings players have won the OROY five times in league history.

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