Filling the Vikings’ QB Void with a National Champion in the 2024 NFL Draft

Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy is sacked by Indiana linebacker Aaron Casey during the first half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

The 2024 NFL Draft is chock full of great quarterback talent at the top of the class.

While Caleb Williams and Drake Maye have been a one-two punch at the top ever since the conclusion of last year, and Jayden Daniels has been the big riser throughout 2023, the class does not end there. One such example of a QB who could be had later on in the first round while still offering a strong skillset is Michigan QB and national champion, J.J. McCarthy. Today’s edition of the Vikings Draft Thermometer series will focus on how his skills could translate to the NFL level, and more specifically, the Minnesota Vikings.


National Champion
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
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 200 pounds
  • Arm Length: TBD
  • Hand Size: TBD
  • 40-Yard Dash: TBD
  • School: Michigan
  • Games Watched: TCU (2022), Michigan State (2023), Alabama (2023), Washington (2023)

J.J. McCarthy was one of the most sought after QB recruits coming out of high school. After attending IMG Academy in La Grange Park, Illinois, he was a 4-star recruit by 247 Sports, and the sixth-highest rated QB recruit in the Class of 2021. He received offers from multiple Big Ten programs, including Michigan State, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, but ultimately committed to Michigan.

After backing up Cade McNamara during his freshman season in 2021, McCarthy has been the winningest quarterback over the past two seasons as a starter for Michigan. The Wolverines are 27-1 with him under center since he took the full-time starting job in 2022, with the only loss coming against TCU during the College Football Playoff during that 2022 season.

Now, the quarterback prepares for the 2024 NFL Draft near the top of a long list of talented QBs after helping lead Michigan to a 15-0 season and national championship in 2023.


Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy kisses the championship trophy to celebrate the Wolverines’ 34-13 win over Washington in the national championship game at NRG Stadium in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.


  • 2021: 34/59 (57.6%), 516 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INTs (11 games)
  • 2022: 208/322 (64.6%), 2719 yards, 22 TDs, 5 INTs (14 games)
  • 2023: 240/332 (72.3%), 2991 yards, 22 TDs, 4 INTs (15 games)


  • 2021: 25 carries, 152 yards, 2 TDs, 4 fumbles (11 games)
  • 2022: 67 carries, 402 yards, 5 TDs, 9 fumbles (14 games)
  • 2023: 57 carries, 340 yards, 3 TDs, 3 fumbles (15 games)


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

J.J. McCarthy is a surgeon with his passing ability. He delivers accurate passes at all three levels of the field, and this accuracy is an area that has improved in each season he’s spent in the Michigan offense. The velocity on his throws allows him to fit passes into tight windows downfield. He leads his receivers well, allowing them to pick up yards after the catch as well.

On top of his throwing ability, McCarthy has a knack for maneuvering around the pocket. He has the athletic ability to take off and pick up yards with his legs when production breaks down. This certainly isn’t something he does a ton of, but it’s a useful skill to have in his back pocket.

McCarthy is about as young of a QB prospect as you’ll find too. He just turned 21 years old in January, and his mechanics are superb for a player of his age. There is certainly room for growth in his ability to read the field, but the success he’s had as one of the younger players offers plenty of promise for the future.


Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) watches a play from the sideline during the second half of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024.

Much of the concern with McCarthy comes from the fact that he played in a run-first Michigan offense. He was more of a game manager with the Wolverines because of the RB talent in Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards. As a result, while he was able to make plays through the air, he simply wasn’t asked to carry the offense very much.

There is no better example of this than the national championship game against Washington. McCarthy threw the ball just 18 times for 140 yards while Corum and Edwards really did much of the work to earn that title. What will happen when he’s asked to be a big-time playmaker at the NFL level?

Finally, McCarthy’s frame could use some extra bulk to it. While he is 6’3″, allowing him to get passes above the mitts of opposing defensive linemen, he hovers right around 200 pounds and is a bit lanky. A couple big hits could open him up to injuries, but again, he’s a young player with plenty of time to build up his body.

NFL Projection

Jan 1, 2024; Pasadena, CA, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws a pass against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half in the 2024 Rose Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  • Draft Stock: First Round-Top 50
  • Immediate Role: Developmental QB with chance to start immediately
  • NFL Comp: Alex Smith
  • Vikings Draft Thermometer: 65

If the Vikings are unable to trade up for one of the top quarterbacks, J.J. McCarthy would be one of the top options either at No. 11 or further down the board if the Vikings find themselves in a position to trade down. McCarthy won’t wow anybody with his numbers, but he consistently found ways to help his team win at Michigan. Putting him into a Vikings system that already has a strong offensive foundation could be exactly what the young QB needs in order to thrive immediately.

Editor’s Note: Statistics for this article were found via 247 SportsPro Football Focus and Sports Reference CFB.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of 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.