Tide Starts to Turn for Vikings’ New QB

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About a week and a half ago, it was a fringe theory. Best-case scenario. The utopian outcome.

Tide Starts to Turn for Vikings’ New QB

Now, less than four weeks before mandatory minicamp in June, new quarterback J.J. McCarthy actually starting Week 1 out of the gate is picking up steam. The tide is turning.

Minnesota Vikings 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.

Generally speaking, McCarthy still has a long way to go before taking the QB1 scepter in September, but the who’s who of Vikings football is warming up the possibility as a reality. Notably, KFAN’s Paul Allen, the Voice of the Vikings, mentioned the topic this week.

“I’m starting to learn more about him from other people who know more about it than me and us, or putting in my own work, I’m just, I’m really, really excited about him. And I’m also not willing, I’m not gonna put a percentage on it, but, you know, I’m not, I’m closer to believing that he can play game one against whomever than I was, say, last week,” Allen said on his Nine to Noon program Monday.

new qb
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports.

Minnesota signed Sam Darnold about 12 hours after Kirk Cousins agreed to terms with the Atlanta Falcons in March, so for about eight weeks, Darnold has been penciled in as the team’s QB1, at least in a patchover capacity. McCarthy, the rookie, just turned 21 in January, and there is absolutely no rush to shove him into the starting lineup — unless he’s just point-blank ready.

McCarthy will have to joust with Darnold this summer for the QB1 job, but if he lives up to his college scouting report, the Wolverine could do precisely that sooner than most. Leading up to the draft, McCarthy was considered one of the most game-ready passers in the class. Drake Maye, a man on the Vikings’ radar for weeks, was tabbed as a sit-for-a-year prospect, but McCarthy isn’t necessarily like that. If he has the juice this summer versus Darnold, McCarthy can give it a go sooner rather than later.

Vikings Draft
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports.

Right after the draft, ESPN claimed that Minnesota had a specific plan awaiting 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,” ESPN’s Kevin Seifert explained on April 26th.

Around the same time, general manager Kwesi 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.”

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.

The ESPN reporting sounds like the framework for McCarthy watching and learning for some or all of 2024. But plugged-in personalities like Allen are flirting with an alternative possibility — McCarthy in the mix right away.

Mandatory minicamp gets underway way on June 4th, the first setting to determine the Week 1 starter.

The Vikings, in 63 years of existence, have never allowed a quarterback to make his first career start in Week 1 of his rookie season.

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.