Local NFL Insider Pretty Convinced Vikings Want Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye, Not JJ McCarthy

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The Minnesota Vikings have fans, media members and rival executives all co-mingling amongst themselves trying to figure out what general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and head coach Kevin O’Connell have planned for draft night, as we inch closer to April 25.

Kirk Cousins is gone and the Vikings have acquired another 1st round pick (No. 23 overall) that most believe they will use to move up the draft board from No. 11 so they can draft their new franchise quarterback. But who is that quarterback?

Caleb Williams is going to be gone. The Bears traded Justin Fields yesterday and all but announced that Williams is their guy with the No. 1 overall pick. It’s widely believed that LSU’s Jayden Daniels will go No. 2 overall (to Washington for now), and that North Carolina’s Drake Maye will go No. 3 (to New England for now).

Minnesota Vikings prefer to spend more on Drake Maye than land JJ McCarthy for less

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Photo: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Then, there is Michigan’s JJ McCarthy, who was once seen as a borderline 1st round talent. Now, he’s much closer to top-10 than he is bottom-10. The belief is whoever wants JJ will have to jump somewhere into the top-10, probably even top-5 to land the Michigan product as their QB of the future.

As of Monday morning, the Vikings’ plans are still a mystery. But most have them deciding between a big swing up the board for JJ McCarthy or an even bigger swing, into the top-3, for Drake Maye.

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If given those two options, the very plugged in Minnesota Vikings beat writer and insider, Alec Lewis (The Athletic), is putting his money on Kwesi giving up whatever additional assets are needed to move up higher, in order to land Maye. That, in Kevin O’Connell’s eyes, there’s a large gap between Maye and McCarthy.

Mailbag: Might the Vikings be able to hold onto next year’s first-round pick if they trade up into the top five?

Lewis: It depends. If the Vikings are committed to snagging a top-three quarterback, it’s doubtful. But if they’re OK ascending to No. 4 or 5 for an option like McCarthy — which feels like a major if — they could conceivably keep their future firsts.

Mailbag: Which is more likely: trading three firsts and getting Maye or trading two firsts and landing McCarthy? — Jordan J.

Lewis: I think the first outcome is much more likely than the second.

The Athletic

The young scribe wrote in The Athletic on Monday, from what he’s heard, it will take the No. 11 and No. 23 picks in 2024, along with another 1st rounder in 2025 and a 2nd-rounder in 2026 to move up that far. But if they only want to get into the top-5, they could probably get it done without the additional 1st rounder in 2025.

Drake Maye vs Jayden Daniels for Kevin O’Connell’s heart

minnesota vikings rumors jayden daniels lsu

If what Alec Lewis reporting is true then it doesn’t appear JJ McCarthy is much competition for Drake Maye. But that doesn’t mean Maye doesn’t have any competition for KOC’s attention. Lewis says this isn’t a battle between kids from North Carolina and Michigan. Instead, this is about Tar Heels vs Tigers. LSU Tigers.

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Alec believes the trade up package it takes to get Drake Maye is very similar to what it would take to move up one additional position, to No. 2 overall. That to him, the Vikings appear set on getting either the aforementioned Maye… or Jayden Daniels.

Mailbag: It appears the Vikings prefer Drake Maye to Jayden Daniels. Why is that the case? — Luke B.

Lewis: It might appear this way externally, but I’m not sure I believe that.

As we’ve previously written, the Vikings were one of the teams that dove into, evaluated and expressed interest in Daniels the earliest. He’s wildly athletic, but the tape shows his accuracy, polish and ability to progress through reads on time. Head coach Kevin O’Connell values all of those qualities.

Maye is more raw but offers loads of promise. Evaluators rave about his leadership and temperament. His size and arm strength are undeniable. Emerge from the draft with either of these two, and the Vikings would assuredly be over the moon.

The Athletic

Alec has been on the Vikings having real interest in Jayden Daniels throughout the offseason, even when others have all but crossed him off Minnesota’s board for one reason or another. There’s no doubt either, that Daniels would be a surprising target, given what we’ve been hearing from NFL insiders for the last couple of weeks.

So could the JJ McCarthy steam be more of a smokescreen than anything of substance? That seems to be what Lewis is suggesting. Stay tuned…

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