Five NFL teams that could pick Michigan football QB J.J. McCarthy

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J.J. McCarthy is Michigan’s best quarterback prospect since – maybe ever.

McCarthy came to Michigan as a five-star recruit in the 2021 class and has lived up to the hype ever since. He flashed in limited time as a true freshman but only took over the starting job full-time in 2022. McCarthy finishes his Michigan career with 6,226 passing yards, 49 passing touchdowns, one national championship, and just one loss as a starter.

The 20-year-old signal caller also happens to be one of the most polarizing prospects in the 2024 NFL draft. When McCarthy declared, there were many who pinned him as a second-round talent who should have returned to college. Since then, McCarthy has rocketed up draft boards and is heralded by some outlets as the right move for the Washington Commanders with the second overall pick.

Here is a look at five teams that could end up taking McCarthy.

Washington Commanders, second overall pick

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Let’s start with the highest at least semi-realistic team on the board. The Commanders have a roster full of holes, but there may be none bigger than quarterback. Right now, Washington is slated to start Marcus Mariota in week one, and while they can do worse, he is certainly more of a backup at this point in his career.

The expectation is that Washington drafts Drake Maye, who many draft analysts (myself included) believe to be the second-best quarterback in the class after Caleb Williams. Should the Commanders for McCarthy instead it would send shockwaves through the NFL and probably leave the former Wolverine in a less-than-ideal scenario to start his career.

Minnesota Vikings, third or 12th overall pick

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Minnesota is the team that has been most tied to McCarthy during the pre-draft process. Minnesota recently lost quarterback Kirk Cousins in free agency and needs a long-term plan quickly if they want to avoid falling into the “irrelevant” category. The Vikings also just traded their second-round pick this year and next year to gain the 23rd overall pick in 2024, giving them the trade capital needed to make a move into the top five.

Minnesota is the ideal spot for McCarthy. The Vikings have a strong wide receiver room with young superstar Justin Jefferson and his talented counterpart Jordan Addison, not to mention they just signed Sam Darnold who can help mentor McCarthy during his first season. Rumors of a Minnesota trade have been going around the internet with the most likely partner listed as the Patriots. Should that be the case Minnesota will decide between McCarthy and Jayden Daniels at third overall.

New England Patriots, third overall

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So what if New England doesn’t make the trade? Well, McCarthy might still go third anyway. The Patriots need a quarterback just as bad as anybody and just hired a new head coach who might want to start his career off with a bang.

I expect this pick to be Marvin Harrison Jr., but the Pats have recently signed a number of veteran receivers which gives the impression they may not be interested in adding more weapons. New England has a similar offensive structure to what McCarthy ran at Michigan (run first, heavy PA) but lacks the offensive firepower of Minnesota or some other teams we have yet to talk about. The Pats would also likely press him into action early which is worse for his development at the next level.

New York Giants, six overall

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New York recently re-signed Daniel Jones to a four-year extension, but the team has an out after next season and very well could exercise that right should McCarthy fall into their lap at six. Unfortunately, however, the G-men are probably the worst spot McCarthy could land. They have no receiving talent, a sketchy offensive line, and just invested a lot of money on defense which limits their ability to build around a potential quarterback. Oof.

Should the Giants take McCarthy, the hope would be that they allow him one year to sit under Jones and draft a receive high in 2025 to help give McCarthy options when he takes the starting job. This is a less-than-ideal situation for J.J., but the Giants GM might be looking to make waves.

New York Jets, 10th overall

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The Jets present a much more attractive home for McCarthy than their blue and red neighbors. The Jets, unlike the Giants, have a better receiving core, a strong run game, and an aging vet in Aaron Rodgers who can help transition McCarthy into the NFL as he moves into retirement. The biggest downside here is that Rodgers might play more than just one more season before he retires. Otherwise, it would be terrific for J.J. to team up with Garrett Wilson, Mike Williams, and the rest of Gang Green.

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