J.J. McCarthy Thought Two Teams Were in the Mix to Draft Him

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

The NFL world was plenty surprised to see Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy begin sliding down the board in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Ultimately, the Vikings were the team to go get him as they traded up with the New York Jets to acquire the 10th overall pick. McCarthy became the first QB selected with a top 10 pick in franchise history. Looking back on the draft, though, did Minnesota have competition to go get the quarterback? According to McCarthy himself, they did.

J.J. McCarthy Reveals Another Team Was Interested in Drafting Him

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

 McCarthy told KFAN’s Paul Allen the details on Monday, “Yes, I did think there was a chance I would be a Bronco. You know, that was kind of my two spots that I really felt like, you know, I was gonna go after seeing the first six picks. And, you know, both great spots, but I’m extremely excited to stay in the Midwest and play for coach O’Connell.”

Denver released veteran QB Russell Wilson prior to free agency this spring, which meant that they would take on a historic amount of dead money, totaling $85 million over the next two years. As a result, Denver needed to find another QB in the draft, so it would make sense that they were interested in McCarthy.

The interest in QBs was proven when, after the Vikings took McCarthy at No. 10, the Broncos followed that move up by selecting Bo Nix with the 12th overall pick.

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) reacts during the second quarter against the Washington Huskies in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

However, it seems like Broncos head coach Sean Payton is trying to downplay Denver’s interest in McCarthy in the aftermath of the draft. Following the conclusion of the first round, he alluded to the idea that the Broncos simply were trying to smokescreen teams like the Vikings into thinking they were interested in trading up.

“I was actively involved in trying to pretend we were moving forward. It’s this time of the year, and it’s difficult … Man, you just don’t want others to know our focal point,” he told the media on Thursday night.

Who knows how true that actually is, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter all that much from a Minnesota perspective. The Vikings didn’t need to give up an exuberant amount of draft capital to move up and draft him.

J.J. McCarthy
Nov 19, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Broncos head coach Sean Payton in the first quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It seems that both teams ended up getting their guy if Payton’s comments are true. We’ll soon see which team was correct in their QB selections.

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.