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Vikings trade up for J.J. McCarthy

By Jared Smola | Updated on Thu, 25 Apr 2024, 9:34 PM EDT

The Vikings selected Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy in Round 1 of the NFL Draft. McCarthy won 27 of 28 starts over the past two seasons, but a run-heavy Michigan squad limited the raw production. He averaged only 23.4 passes per game from 2022-2023. He hit 300 yards three times over that stretch. Of course, counting stats make up a small piece of the overall evaluation. Look to the efficiency, and McCarthy thrived – particularly in 2023. He posted an elite yards per attempt (9.0) and adjusted completion rate (80.0%). Running a pro-style system under HC Jim Harbaugh, McCarthy also excelled on throws over the middle of the field. The plus athlete showed his movement skills at the NFL Combine with a 91st percentile 3-cone (6.82) and 72nd percentile shuttle (4.23). He tallied ten rushing TDs for his career. The 6’2, 215-pounder isn’t the most physically imposing QB, but his tape doesn’t give us any arm strength concerns. And he avoided missing time due to an injury. It’s also worth remembering that this Michigan offense wasn’t loaded like the ones Jayden Daniels and Michael Penix Jr. played with. Ultimately, the selection of McCarthy is a bet on traits, athleticism, and high character. He’s certainly matched with a bright offensive mind in HC Kevin O'Connell. Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson supply an excellent trio of weapons. McCarthy projects as the Week 1 starter over Sam Darnold, but it's far from a lock. The Michigan product looks no better than a low-end QB2 for redraft.

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Jared Smola, Lead Analyst
Jared has been with Draft Sharks since 2007. He’s now Lead Analyst, heading up the preseason and weekly projections that fuel your Draft War Room and My Team tools. He currently ranks 1st among 133 analysts in draft rankings accuracy.
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