Vikings’ Reported Target on Draft Night is Michigan QB JJ McCarthy

jj mccarthy, Minnesota Vikings
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings have been working to position themselves as major players for the early stages of the NFL Draft on April 25, which is why they traded with the Houston Texans for the No. 23 overall pick last week. Nearly every single report available (and we’ve covered most of them) has them aggressively looking to move up into the top-5 so they can grab their QB of the future.

In a new insider piece at ESPN, which was written by three of their NFL Draft gurus Matt Miller, Jordan Reid and Field Yates, general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah “sent up a flare” to any team ahead of them who might want to move back, that the Vikings are ready and willing to deal. Some have even speculated on a possible handshake deal with a team in the top-5 that is yet to be executed, for whatever reason.

But in order to get answers to any of those questions, Minnesota’s underlying motivation needs to be revealed. Who do they covet? Which of the top quarterback prospects are they targeting? Many have them on Drake Maye (UNC), others believe it’s Jayden Daniels (LSU).

Minnesota Vikings Reportedly Targeting JJ McCarthy

jj mccarthy minnesota vikings draft rumors
Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

But Matt Miller reported in this morning’s aforementioned ESPN+ article that head coach Kevin O’Connell isn’t after either of those two QBs. That the Vikings are, in fact, targeting Michigan QB JJ McCarthy, who turned heads at his pro day in Ann Arbor on Friday, and that they plan on being aggressive in trying to make a deal with the Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 and the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 5, to make sure they get their guy.

The Vikings sent neither Adofo-Mensah nor coach Kevin O’Connell to the Michigan pro day Friday, but quarterbacks coach Josh McCown was firmly planted right behind McCarthy during his 25-minute throwing session. In talking to NFL personnel while on the road at pro days this week, the feeling is still the Vikings will be aggressive in trading up to the No. 4 or No. 5 spot to land the Michigan quarterback. One general manager I talked to this week said McCarthy is a top-six pick right now. The question is who will trade up to get him.

Matt Miller – ESPN+

Minnesota targeting JJ McCarthy wouldn’t be at all surprising, if this report is indeed true. The Vikings have been linked to him throughout this early draft process. But that is still a big ‘if’. Not because we should doubt Miller’s credibility. There isn’t a more deeply rooted draft insider in the business than Matt Miller, who’s been studying and working the NFL Draft since long before his days at ESPN.


It’s always important to remember that we are one month away from night one of the draft weekend and DEEPLY embedded in the thick of “Lying Season” in the NFL. It’s quite possible the Vikings are targeting McCarthy. We know, pretty much for a fact, that KOC likes JJ a lot; and we know, for actual fact, that the 21-year-old Michigan QB is eying the Vikings as a preferred destinations.

Related: Vikings Schedule Private Pre-Draft Workout with JJ McCarthy in Ann Arbor

There’s a reason why McCarthy is currently -130 odds (DraftKings) to hold up a Vikings jersey on draft night. And if JJ McCarthy is the quarterback prospect Kwesi and O’Connell are targeting, that will mean positive things for their future draft capital, since getting up above No. 4 is expected to cost them an additional 1st round pick in 2025, plus more.

JJ started two seasons at Michigan, throwing for 5,710 yards (68.5%), 44 touchdowns and 9 interceptions as the Wolverines’ unquestioned QB1. McCarthy reached another level of efficiency in his final season, though, pushing his completion percentage up to an absurd 72.3%. Michigan’s record during the Harbaugh + McCarthy era: 27-1.

Still, his cumulative numbers, outside of wins, won’t blow anyone away. Those who like JJ McCarthy believe his suppressed numbers are an inaccurate reflection of his talent level. Michigan — under now LA Rams head coach, Jim Harbaugh — played a very pro-style offense, compared to most of college football. They emphasized the run game and controlling the football.

With running back Blake Corum and one of the best offensive lines in the country, Jim knew early on in the season what the rest of the nation eventually found out, as the Wolverines bullied their way to a National Championship. They were bigger and badder than any team they were going to play.

Related: Texas DL Byron Murphy II is Vikings Reported ‘Contingency Plan’ at Top of Draft

And he was right. Every step of the way, nobody could match up with the physicality that Michigan brought to the table. Even with one of the most efficient passers in power 5 football, the Wolverines’ superpower was in the trenches and Jim was determined to exploit it.

So that’s why JJ only put up 2,991 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Even when completing passes at a 72% clip, it’s difficult to stack yards and touchdowns when you don’t get the attempts. If Miller’s report is true and JJ McCarthy is about to be a Viking… then that will certainly change under pass-happy play-caller and head coach, Kevin O’Connell.

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