NFL Draft Analyst Believes J.J. McCarthy Can (and Will) Start for Vikings in Week 1

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Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Does rookie Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback J.J. McCarthy actually have a chance at beating out Sam Darnold the former third overall pick from the 2018 draft? Well, according to well known College Football and NFL Draft Analyst Joel Klatt (FOX Sports), he believes J.J. McCarthy “can and will start” for Head Coach Kevin O’Connell right away.

Not only does Klatt think he will beat out Darnold by the end of training camp for the starting quarterback position, but what McCarthy had to say to Klatt at Michigan’s spring game a few days before the draft is quite interesting.

J.J. McCarthy wanted to end up with the Minnesota Vikings

When Klatt went to Ann Arbor on April 20, 2024 to cover the Michigan Wolverine’s annual spring game, he ran into McCarthy, as members of the 2023 team were there for their ring ceremony.

He got a chance to talk with the Vikings new QB before he was drafted, about the draft process, before asking him where he wanted to end up. What he had to say is very encouraging if your a Vikings’ fan.

[J.J. McCarthy] told me that he wanted to end up in Minnesota, saying he would “love” to play for the Vikings. 

Joel Klatt – FoxSports.com

After only a few days from that conversation, McCarthy’s wish came true and he was selected 10th overall to the Minnesota Vikings.

The debate becomes whether J.J. McCarthy should and could start right away

At this point of the offseason, everything seems to slow down until things pick back up again in late July when Vikings’ training camp begins. Although news is slow, the debate about whether McCarthy should start right away or sit and learn for some period of time rages on and the fan base is quite split on what the Vikings should do.

Related: NFL Draft Expert Believes Vikings’ Undrafted Free Agent Class is Elite

Despite the discussions between fans, Joel Klatt, who played quarterback in college for the Colorado Buffaloes and has covered College Football for almost two decades, doesn’t think this should be a debate among fans. He calls McCarthy hyper competitive, really skilled, and a strong leader. Critical traits that are needed in the NFL he already has.

“Of course, the debate becomes whether McCarthy should and could start right away. I believe that he can and will start for Kevin O’Connell. McCarthy is hyper-competitive and really skilled. The Vikings are going to see a guy who can win them football games right away, partly because of what he does on the field, but also because he’s such a strong leader. He went 27-1 as Michigan’s starting quarterback, making plays in key moments where prior Michigan teams failed.”

Joel Klatt – FoxSports.com

Although Kevin O’Connell is the one with the final decision on whether McCarthy starts week one or not, Klatt’s comments will only fuel the debate on whether he starts immediately or sits behind Sam Darnold to open the season.

Only time will tell if Kevin O’Connell and the Vikings’ agree with Joel Klatt

Overall, Klatt seems pretty adamant that McCarthy is ready for the NFL. McCarthy is surrounded by one of the best offenses in the league with skill players such as Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson while also being bookended by top offensive tackles Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill.

Related: Why are the Vikings Avoiding Dalton Risner?

McCarthy’s third-down tape was as good as any of the other quarterbacks and was the best intermediate passer of all the top quarterbacks heading into the draft. In the end, we’ll see if O’Connell will let the kid loose or keep the training wheels on him for awhile.

Only time will tell.

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