J.J. McCarthy - QB - Michigan

Michigan’s Championship winning quarterback has seen a slow and steady rise up a number of analysts’ pre-draft rankings, with some touting the 21-year old Illinois native as the No.2 overall pick. He’s a 5-star recruit who only tasted defeat once in his 29 starts for the Wolverines, and whilst there are question marks over his ability to lead an offense given his relatively low passing volume in college, the potential here is undeniable.

Measurables

Height: 6′ 2″

Weight: 219 lbs

Age: 21

40-yard dash: DNP

3-cone drill: 6.82s

20-yard shuttle: 4.23s

Vertical Jump: DNP

Broad Jump: DNP

Bench Press: DNP

*age is at the start of player’s rookie year

College Stats

Passing Table
Passing
YearSchoolConfClassPosGCmpAttPctYdsY/AAY/ATDIntRate
*2021MichiganBig TenFRQB11345957.65168.78.952152.3
*2022MichiganBig TenSO1420832264.627198.49.1225155.0
*2023MichiganBig TenSRQB1524033272.329919.09.8224167.4
CareerMichigan48271367.662268.79.44911160.5
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 3/28/2024.

Notable Headlines

McCarthy was named a Top-25 prospect and one of the best quarterback candidates leaving high school, a talent that caught the eye of Jim Harbaugh and saw him join the Big Ten programme in Ann Arbor as backup to Cade McNamara. In week 2 of his sophomore season McCarthy was named the starter and led the Wolverines to an undefeated conference campaign (13-0) before losing in the Fiesta Bowl to TCU. The loss would be McCarthy’s last as a collegiate athlete, with the QB guiding Michigan to a National Championship in his junior year after a flawless 15-0 season. McCarthy finished his college career with 6,226 passing yards (5th in programme history), a 27-1 W/L record (Leads QBs since 2000) and a completion rate of 67.6% (1st in programme history – over 20 attempts).

Scouting Report

Positives

Despite having notably fewer passing attempts than other top prospects in the draft, McCarthy shows poise under pressure and plays with the confidence and focus required in a starting NFL quarterback. McCarthy’s ability to manage a game and protect the ball will be a welcome attribute for coaching staff in the professional ranks, with his considerable arm strength making him an attractive option for a number of franchises. McCarthy possesses speed which wasn’t necessarily showcased in Michigan’s run-heavy offense, making him more dangerous out of the pocket than some give him credit for.

Negatives

Questions have been asked of McCarthy’s touch on deeper passes with the Michigan man tending to overthrow his receivers downfield. Some doubts have been raised regarding the speed he goes through his progressions, raising concerns for his decision making at times. Measuring up at only 6’2” and weighing in under 220 will be a red flag for many selectors who will have some uncertainty relating to his physicality on an NFL field.

Pre Draft Analysis

Expected Draft Capital- Early Round 1

Ideal Landing Spot

The rumour mill has kicked into overdrive since McCarthy’s pro day, and projections of him going to Washington at the No.2 overall pick are the latest trend in some mock drafts – but to me that just doesn’t make sense for what Dan Quinn and the Commanders want to do with their offense. Minnesota are one of five teams who will undoubtedly be drafting their 2024 starting QB in the 1st round on April 25th and with Kirk Cousins departing for Atlanta, McCarthy seems a ready made replacement to step in and lead an offense loaded with some of the league’s top receiving talent. The Vikings have the 11th and 23rd pick which I project them using to trade with the Chargers and make McCarthy their man.

Post Draft Analysis

Minnesota Vikings – Round 1, Pick 10

Landing Spot

With the loss of Kirk Cousins to Atlanta, Minnesota badly needed their new franchise name at the quarterback position – and if the smiles in the Vikings’ draft room following the selection of McCarthy at 1.10 were anything to go by – you’d be safe to assume they got their guy. Despite draft day rumours of Minnesota’s GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah offering three first rounders to the Patriots in order to move up to the 1.03 and grab Drake Maye, it was another AFC East team – the New York Jets – that proved the ideal trading partner for the men from Minneapolis.

McCarthy now finds himself under centre with one of the most talented receiving corps in the NFL at his disposal. As a more traditional pocket-passer, being able to rely on the natural pass catching abilities of Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson, as well as newly acquired back Aaron Jones from Green Bay, will be a major factor in the rookie QB’s development in year one. Sam Darnold currently sits atop the Vikings depth chart and will likely begin the season as the de-facto starter…but the NCAA Championship winning signal caller won’t have to wait too long to see the field.

Fantasy Impact

With McCarthy’s draft capital and only Sam Darnold to beat out on the depth chart, it’s simply a matter of time before we see the Michigan Wolverine make his NFL debut. Minnesota’s acquisition of Darnold – the No.3 overall pick in 2018 – however tells us that although McCarthy will undoubtedly be the guy in the long-term, it’s unlikely this year’s first-rounder will be thrust into the limelight from the get-go. With Justin Jefferson likely to see an eye-watering contract extension in the next 12 months, and the services of Addison and Hockenson secured until the 2027 season – McCarthy is a borderline QB1 in Dynasty formats.

In re-draft formats, McCarthy should be off your draft boards heading into the season, for no other reason that he simply won’t start week 1 and you don’t want to clog up a valuable bench spot. The receiving weapons in Minnesota make the former Wolverine a name to monitor as the season progresses, particularly with the Vikings going into their Week 6 BYE after a trip to London – the coaching staff may see this as the ideal time to make a change at the QB position and give McCarthy his first start at home to a Lions pass defense that gave up an average of 257 yards per game through the air (31st in the NFL). If you’re streaming the position, McCarthy could be a speculative add off waivers in mid-October.

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