JJ McCarthy to Vikings Smoke Caught Fire… so Mel Kiper Poured More Gas on

jj mccarthy, minnesota vikings draft rumors
Melanie Maxwell / USA TODAY NETWORK

Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy being rumored as the Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback target in the 2024 NFL Draft is nothing new. Since their season ended, even prior to Kirk Cousins’ departure, McCarthy has been the one QB continually linked to the Vikings.

Earlier in the process, he was there for them at No. 11. Once JJ started surging up draft boards, the Vikings swung a trade with the Texans that landed them an additional first round pick (No. 23). Now, they have more ammo than any other team outside the top-10, to trade up and take the former Wolverine, if that is indeed who they want.

JJ McCarthy to Minnesota Vikings smoke has officially caught fire

But since the start of April, Vikings + JJ McCarthy smoke has turned to flame. Matt Miller (ESPN) wrote a couple of weeks ago that this was going to happen and, turns out, he was 100% correct. Former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made headlines late last week when he appeared confident that Minnesota was preparing to overpay the Arizona Cardinals, in order to move up to No. 4 and draft JJ McCarthy.

On Tuesday, longtime NFL insider Armando Salguero (Outkick) mostly confirmed Spielman’s report, though he stopped short of saying the team’s current general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah is willing to pay three first round picks, in exchange for JJ.

He did, however, announce “the fact” that it’s an open secret around NFL circles, head coach Kevin O’Connell wants JJ McCarthy and that the Cardinals are trying to fleece the Vikings due to their their assumed desperation.

The fact the Cardinals are floating three first-round picks in return for their pick in what basically would be a trade for J.J. McCarthy is an open secret now.

Armando Salguero – Outkick

Salguero did stop short of confirming that Kwesi is actually interested in such an overpay. His reporting claims that the only thing stopping a deal from being agreed to already is Arizona’s demand for the Vikings’ 2025 1st round pick.

Related: NFL Insider Believes Vikings Might Already Have Tentative Trade(s) in Place for Draft Night

Mel Kiper throws more gas on the flames

JJ McCarthy, Minnesota Vikings, 2024 NFL Draft
Credit: Kirthmon F. Dozier / USA TODAY NETWORK

So, when Mel Kiper (ESPN) dropped his latest mock draft on Wednesday morning, which has the Vikings trading the No. 11, No. 23, and next year’s 1st rounder to the Los Angeles Chargers so they can draft JJ McCarthy, it caught my attention.

At this point in the process, based on everything I’ve heard, I don’t think the Vikings can afford to wait until No. 11 if they want one of the top four quarterbacks. They’re going to have to trade up. Are they giving up too much? It’s certainly possible. But if they believe McCarthy can be their long-term Kirk Cousins replacement, shouldn’t they be OK with sending out their 2025 first-rounder?

I have McCarthy at No. 14 on my Big Board, but I can see on tape why a team might take him in the top five. He has intriguing physical traits and took a huge step forward as a precision passer in 2023. In Minnesota, with Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson catching his passes, he would have the playmakers around him to succeed as a rookie.

Mel Kiper Mock Draft (4/10)

First off, the package sent in Kiper’s mock isn’t all that important. As you can read above, he isn’t an NFL insider whose job is to dig for exact compensation packages on potential trades. Mel Kiper’s job is to evaluate draft eligible players year-round. Then, as accurately as possible, project where those prospects will land as the draft draws closer.

Does he have in-depth contacts throughout the league? Yes. Does he create content and draw up mock drafts based on mountains of insider information that the rest of us do not have access to? Yes. And, from what we know, the cost to trade up currently is three first round picks, as noted above.

Related: Details of Vikings’ Private QB Workouts and Courting Process Revealed; Bo Nix Added to List

But Kiper doesn’t care what the Vikings need to pay, in order to move up. To him, the cost to do business is what it is. Mel picking up more reliable smoke that has KOC after JJ McCarthy, and that it’ll take a blockbuster trade up to acquire said target, is what’s significant.

Every day that goes by, it seems more and more likely that JJ McCarthy is the quarterback that the Minnesota Vikings are targeting. If that desire is a smokescreen, they seem to have everyone fooled. We’ll find out on April 25.

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