Three QBs Remain Popular 2024 NFL Draft Targets for the Vikings

Dec 2, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws during the first quarter of the Big Ten Championship game against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

A big point of discussion during this upcoming offseason inevitably will involve the Vikings quarterback position.

Kirk Cousins’ contract comes to an end at the conclusion of the 2023 season, and they have yet to find a true replacement for him moving forward. The 2024 NFL Draft looks chock full of QB talent, and as a result, early mock drafts are sending QBs to Minnesota on a very regular basis. In particular, there are three QBs who get mocked to the Vikings more than any others.

NFL Mock Draft Database has compiled the results of many mock drafts, and there is a three-way tie for the most popular Vikings first-round pick,: J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix. Each player has been mocked to the Vikings at a rate of 12.8% as of Monday, December 11th.

Today, we are going to examine the strengths and weaknesses of these QBs to determine whether or not they should be on Minnesota’s radar in April.

Michael Penix

Three QBs
Dec 1, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) throws the ball against the Oregon Ducks in the second half of the Pac-12 Championship game at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Penix is a very interesting prospect to watch this offseason. The Washington QB has all sorts of arm talent, but his injury history could cause some NFL teams to be wary of him.

Penix has thrown for 4218 yards, 33 TDs, and 9 INTs so far during the 2023 season, and those numbers will go up when Washington takes on the Texas Longhorns during the Sugar Bowl on January 1st. He has the strength to make throws all over the field, but he is a bit erratic at times, especially when facing pressure.

According to PFF, Penix has completed 43% of his passes when under pressure this season. Meanwhile, McCarthy has completed 62.7% of his passes in those scenarios while Nix has completed 69.6% of his passes. Seeing as Penix is going to be a 24-year-old rookie and a player with multiple ACL injuries already, could the negatives outweigh the positives with the Washington QB? For my money, Penix is one of the more fascinating QB prospects going into this draft.

J.J. McCarthy

Sep 16, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws against the Bowling Green Falcons in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

J.J. McCarthy hasn’t put up the gaudy numbers that some other prospects have enjoyed this season, but that largely is because he simply hasn’t had to. Michigan is a run-first offense with Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards at RB, so McCarthy has thrown the ball just 287 times through 13 games.

Still, when he has needed to make plays, McCarthy has come through for the Wolverines. He is a very accurate passer, completing 74.2% of his passes this season for 2630 yards and 19 TDs compared to 4 INTs.

McCarthy delivers accurate passes, hitting his receivers in stride and allowing them to pick up extra yards after the catch. Added intrigue from a Vikings perspective could come from his success in play-action. PFF suggests that 72 of his dropbacks came in play-action, and he completed 78.8% of his passes for 733 yards, 5 TDs, and a single interception. If the Vikings want a natural Kirk Cousins replacement at 21 years old, McCarthy could be one of the better options.

Bo Nix

Dec 1, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix (10) prepares to hike the ball against the Washington Huskies during the third quarter at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a very interesting path to the 2024 NFL Draft for Bo Nix. He began his collegiate career at Auburn, but the QB struggled to get that program back to the top in the SEC, throwing for 39 touchdowns and 16 interceptions over the course of three seasons. In total, Auburn went 21-16 during Nix’s tenure as the starter.

He transferred to Oregon in 2022, and in a more QB-friendly system under Dan Lanning, Nix has found much more success with the Ducks. Over two seasons there, he has thrown for 7738 yards, 69 TDs, and 10 interceptions.

Nix has been a much more accurate passer at Oregon, completing 77.2% of his passes this season, and he offers a great element of mobility. He has rushed for 738 yards and 20 TDs during his time with the Ducks. However, how much of his improvements as a passer can be attributed to himself compared to the program? It’s a question that will linger over Nix’s draft stock as April approaches.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.

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