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Purple & Gold Prospects: J.J. McCarthy Final Scouting Report

Welcome to Purple & Gold Prospects!

This will be an ongoing series to get Vikings fans familiar with upcoming draft prospects. The focus of this series will be to cover prominent prospects entering the upcoming NFL Draft. The series will center on the position groups of highest need on the current Vikings roster, but will also cover stand out players across the spectrum. I hope you will join me on this continuing journey to learn more about upcoming draft classes.

With that let’s discover the possible future of your Minnesota Vikings!

Background

Height: 6030

Weight: 202 lbs.

J.J. McCarthy was a 4-star recruit out of IMG Academy. He declared for Michigan in December of 2020. In two full years as a starter he has amassed 5,710 passing yards, 44 TDs, 9 INTs, and a completion rate of 68.5%. He also added 508 rushing yards and 8 TDs on the ground. McCarthy is coming off of a National Championship victory and will only be 21 going into the 2024 NFL Draft. This will make him one of the youngest prospects in the draft and one of the more intriguing QBs coming out.

Games watched: Iowa 2022, Ohio State 2022, TCU 2022, Michigan State 2023, Minnesota 2023, Rutgers 2023

Strengths

McCarthy is a really strong and fast runner. A true dual-threat QB. He operates well from the pocket but will pick up good yardage on the ground when it presents itself or on designed runs. McCarthy is very hard to contain on the edge. He also does a very good job getting out of bounds or down to avoid contact. His pocket presence is also good and will reset or move up into the pocket to buy time and deliver throws. He displays great poise and releases the ball with oncoming defenders. McCarthy has a quick drop back off the snap and gets set into his base quickly. He is a good short-game conductor, getting balls out quickly and with anticipation. This is especially on display with the anticipation he shows on curls and comebacks. His hips swivel quickly to line up with the pass. He has good footwork when kept clean and flashes outstanding accuracy and ball placement when he is allowed to operate from the pocket. McCarthy is also good at operating on the run and extending plays with his athleticism. He has consistently great accuracy and ball placement on intermediate routes and slightly deeper out routes. McCarthy layers the ball fairly well at all levels of the field. Keeps his passes away from defenders where his receiver can still make a play on the ball. He goes through progressions well and has good vision while reading the entire field. McCarthy wasn’t tasked with pushing the ball down the field a lot in the Wolverines’ excellent rushing offense but displayed decent deep ball accuracy when the opportunities presented themselves.

Weaknesses

Although McCarthy has consistently good footwork it can become a problem when he is under pressure or starts feeling pressure before it has actually arrived. Has a few baffling decision-making moments trying to throw the ball while being tackled. Deep ball accuracy needs a little more consistency. His arm is good enough for the NFL but leaves some to be desired. Deep balls can die on him at times. His trajectory can be too low at times leading to batted balls at the line. At times McCarthy can hesitate with an extra hitch or ball pat that delays his release. This led to a pick 6 against TCU during the Fiesta Bowl last season. He can also turn down “NFL open” deeper routes for shorter yardage at times. Has a couple of moments of not seeing defenders shading into throwing lanes. Michigan still stuck to it’s conservative run-based attack, not allowing him to fully showcase his abilities as a passer.  McCarthy also has a very slight build at the moment. His 6′-3″ frame has more to fill out but he currently only plays around 200lbs.

Conclusion

McCarthy led the Wolverines to their first National Championship victory since 1997. During this campaign, he amassed 2,991 yards passing, 22 TDs, only 4 INTs, and a whopping 72.3% completion percentage. His best football may still be ahead of him. He is a very young prospect and will be only 21 once the NFL Draft rolls around. For the Vikings, he is a very compelling prospect. He won’t garner the capital required to move up for any of the big three QBs in this draft but I would be comfortable taking him at 11. Preferably the Vikings would be able to trade back slightly and acquire some extra draft capital before selecting McCarthy. However, with many teams in the teens and early twenties unsure of their QB future it might be prudent to not take that gamble and select McCarthy at 11. In the end I expect McCarthy’s range to be anywhere from pick 10 to the top of the second round. It’s a true mystery on exactly how high NFL teams will value McCarthy this coming April.

Grade

Accuracy: 13.3 / 15

Decision Making/Mental Ability: 13 / 15

Mechanics: 13.8 / 15

Touch/Trajectory: 13 / 15

Arm Strength: 8 / 10

Athleticism: 8.1 / 10

Durability: 9 / 10

Pocket Presence: 8.8 / 10

OVERALL: 87.0 – Late First Round

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