ESPN Ranks J.J. McCarthy’s Supporting Cast Behind Caleb Williams’ and… Daunte Culpepper’s

j.j. mccarthy, Minnesota Vikings
Photo: Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves - X)Credit: Photo: Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves - X)

The Minnesota Vikings finally have that new shiny toy again, and his name is J.J. McCarthy. McCarty was drafted 10th overall to the Vikings in the 2024 NFL draft. McCarthy is now the highest drafted quarterback in franchise history, surpassing Daunte Culpepper who was drafted 11th overall in the 1999 NFL Draft.

McCarthy lands in an offense filled with talent, and one NFL Analyst, Aaron Schatz (ESPN), recently put together a ranked list of the best NFL supporting casts for rookie top-12 QB draft picks since 1990. Minnesota’s new quarterback was ranked very high on the list… but not as high as 2024 No. 1 overall pick, Caleb Williams… or the aforementioned Culpepper.

J.J. McCarthy’s supporting cast with Minnesota Vikings ranks top-5 since 1990

McCarthy starts his career with a great pair of receivers. Justin Jefferson might be the best receiver in the league right now, while Jordan Addison had 70 catches for 911 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie. After that, Brandon Powell and Trent Sherfield are trustworthy veterans.

Tight end T.J. Hockenson had a career-high 960 receiving yards last season despite missing the final 2 games. Running back Aaron Jones comes over from the rival Packers, and although he had only 656 rushing yards in 11 games last season, he did have 1,121 in 2022. Backup Ty Chandler had 461 rushing yards on 4.5 yards per carry in 2023. The Vikings’ offensive line is very strong, particularly with tackles Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill. McCarthy is set up for success as soon as he enters the starting lineup.

Aaron Schatz – NFL Analyst for ESPN

Schatz highlights the many offensive weapons surrounding McCarthy. He specifically mentions Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, Aaron Jones, Ty Chandler, Christian Darrisaw, and Brian O’Neill. Many of which are arguably the best players at their respective positions.

Not only is McCarthy surrounded by elite talent on offense, he also has one of the most quarterback friendly, forward thinking offensive minds in the NFL as his head coach. The only quarterbacks since 1990 that Schatz believes was drafted into better situations than McCarthy are Matt Leinart, Caleb Williams and… Daunte Culpepper coming at No. 1.

  1. Daunte Culpepper – 1999 Minnesota Vikings (No. 11 overall)
  2. Caleb Williams – 2024 Chicago Bears (No. 1 overall)
  3. Matt Leinart – 2006 Arizona Cardinals (No. 10 overall)
  4. J.J. McCarthy – 2024 Minnesota Vikings (No. 10 overall)
  5. Justin Fields – 2021 Chicago Bears (No. 11 overall)

I mean, how could Daunte Culpepper not be No. 1? He had Randy Moss, Cris Carter, and Jake Reed at receiver. Robert Smith and Leroy Hoard at running back. Plus, three Minnesota offensive lineman made the Pro Bowl in 1998.

Culpepper did not throw a pass in his rookie season, though. He got his shot as a sophomore, and took over the QB reins in 2000. He started 16 games that next year, throwing for 3900 yards and 37 touchdowns, in one of the most prolific QB seasons in Vikings history.

Related: Vikings Beat Writer Says to Ignore Negative Reports About J.J. McCarthy

At this point, it’s unclear when McCarthy will take over the starting quarterback role. The Vikings appear intent on having McCarthy sit for at least some period of time, so he can develop and learn behind Sam Darnold. At this stage of the offseason, McCarthy is doing most of his work at practice as Minnesota’s QB3.

We’re not even to training camp, which will begin in late-July, so take everything you read with a grain of salt. McCarthy’s time will come and when it does, he’ll be surrounded with some of the best offensive talent at various positions as well as a head coach who played quarterback in the NFL.

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