Does PFF Hate the Vikings’ QB Situation Too Much?

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings
An image from May 20, 2024 of the first day of the 2024 OTAs, Organized Team Activity, at TCOPC in Eagan, MN.Credit: Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

At this point of the offseason, most major sports platforms are starting to put together their 2024 NFL season team and position rankings. One of the leading NFL analytics websites just recently released their starting quarterback rankings for all 32 teams ahead of the 2024 NFL season.

PFF is not high on Minnesota Vikings’ Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy

Let’s just say, the Minnesota Vikings’ duo of Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy weren’t seen as a very strong QB combination. In fact, Trevor Sikkema (Pro Football Focus) has the Vikings’ QB situation ranked near the bottom of the league. 31st out of 32 teams.

While it seems likely that Darnold opens the season as Vikings’ QB1, Sikkema links both QBs together, since McCarthy is expected to take over as soon as he is ready, as determined by head coach Kevin O’Connell.

I don’t think McCarthy will be the starting quarterback right out of the gate, but a combination of Darnold and McCarthy for the 2024 season seems likely. Darnold has never finished a season with a passing grade above 67.0, but his past two were his highest. I am surprisingly excited to see Darnold get a shot as a starter this year, as he finished his final year in Carolina with a 6.7% big-time throw rate and a 2.9% turnover-worthy play rate in six games as a starter.

Trevor Sikkema -Lead NFL Draft Analyst (Pro Football Focus)

In Sikkema’s rankings, the Denver Broncos’ duo of Jarrett Stidham and Bo Nix are the only team that ranks lower than the Vikings. Quarterbacks such as: Derek Carr (21st), Russell Wilson (22nd), Bryce Young (25th), Will Levis (28th), Daniel Jones (29th) all rank ahead of Darnold + McCarthy. Even the the duo of Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew rank higher (30th).

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The Darnold and McCarthy duo are also behind the rookie quarterbacks of Caleb Williams (19th), the duo of Jacoby Brissett and Drake Maye (26th), and Jayden Daniels (27th). All off which who haven’t taken a snap in the NFL. It’s almost like this dude has a weird vendetta against the Vikings and/or their quarterbacks…

Are the Vikings’ duo of Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy actually that bad?

It’s easy to understand why McCarthy wouldn’t rank to high on the list. He’s a rookie, hasn’t played a single snap in the NFL, and may need time to develop and learn. However, that didn’t stop Sikkema ranking Williams, Maye, and Daniels over other quarterbacks who’ve played in the NFL.

Although McCarthy hasn’t taken a snap in the NFL, he put up quite an historic 2023 season for the Michigan Wolverines who ended up winning the College Football National Championship. McCarthy’s 2023 Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades we’re elite as well:

  • Overall: 90.6
  • Passing: 87.3
  • Running: 78.0

Lastly, Darnold has been in the NFL for six total seasons playing for what will be his fourth NFL team now. He struggled mightily for the New York Jets before being traded to the Carolina Panthers.

He played their for two seasons where he was in and out as the starting quarterback. He then joined the San Francisco 49ers as a free agent to be the backup quarterback behind Brock Purdy.

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Overall, Darnold has struggled throughout his career. He hasn’t put up an overall PFF grade higher than 64.7 (minimum 100 passes) in six seasons. His 64.7 overall PFF grade came his rookie year in 2018 too.

Despite the poor stats and grades, Darnold hasn’t had talent this good on offense around him since being a starter in the NFL. Who knows, maybe Darnold with this supporting cast will resurrect his career like Baker Mayfield did last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Only time will tell.

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