J.J. McCarthy is Generating Serious NFL Draft Buzz

How high will the former Michigan Wolverines quarterback go in the 2024 NFL Draft?
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

The NFL Draft is fast approaching and Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy is this year's mock draft Rocketeer. While he hasn't challenged Caleb Williams for the top spot, he has gone from a mid-to-late first rounder to what seems like a consensus top-5 pick. After leading the Wolverines to a National Championship and putting on some weight ahead of the NFL Combine, McCarthy is suddenly on the tip of every draftnik's tongue.

There was the obvious high praise from his old coach Jim Harbaugh, who also left for the NFL after winning a title at Michigan. McCarthy and Harbaugh went 27-1 together over the last two seasons and the new Los Angeles Chargers coach was very complimentary of his former signal caller.

"I think he plays quarterback the best of any quarterback in the draft," said Harbaugh, seemingly emphasizing McCarthy's command of an offense. "He's incredible. So, big market, small market. Cold weather, hot weather, it won't matter."

The hype isn't only coming from Harbaugh. In Mike Tannenbaum's latest mock draft for ESPN the former New York Jets general manager has McCarthy going No. 4 to the Arizona Cardinals, suggesting they could (and should) move on from Kyler Murray and his big contract.

I think he's a better, younger and more durable quarterback than Murray right now, and I'm not passing up this chance.

Tannenbaum then went on Get Up to further hype McCarthy and say that he's also a better quarterback than Daniel Jones right now. The Giants have the sixth pick, but it seems unlikely that McCarthy will last that long based on most mock drafts right now.

On NFL.com, Chad Reuter has the Minnesota Vikings giving up two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder to move up from No. 11 to No. 4 to take McCarthy. Meanwhile, CBS' Chris Trapasso has the Denver Broncos trading into the Cardinals' spot for the Michigan quarterback.

Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has McCarthy going third. And he's not alone. The Athletic also has McCarthy being taken by Jerod Mayo and the New England Patriots. Writer Ben Standig says the quarterback has always been this good, but the public just didn't know.

There’s no such thing as draft risers and fallers outside of a handful of injury, play-time or limited exposure scenarios. That sensation is public evaluators and media members catching up to the league’s scouting departments. This year’s prime example is McCarthy, who was deemed a mid-to-late first-round selection while leading Michigan to a national championship and a 27-1 record over the past two seasons.

While acknowledging the 21-year-old isn’t ready for Week 1 action, multiple league sources prefer his intangibles over other quarterbacks in this class. Soon we’ll see if the Patriots take the needed passer or help the overall roster. 'Everyone thinks New England will take a quarterback, but they’ve got a bad roster,' one NFL scout said. 'They have to get better talent across the offense. I think a team trades into the top five. There seems to be a lot more urgency with these teams needing quarterbacks this year.'"

At this point McCarthy has nearly reached the top of the draft board. In fact, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero said yesterday that he heard executives around the league believe the Washington Commanders would take McCarthy with the second pick. All that's left is for the Chicago Bears to get caught up in the hype and take him first overall.

Stephen Douglas is a writer at The Big Lead.

Stephen Douglas


Stephen Douglas is a Senior Writer on the Breaking & Trending News Team at Sports Illustrated. He has been in journalism and media since 2008, and now casts a wide net with coverage across all sports. Stephen spent more than a decade with The Big Lead and has previously written for Uproxx and The Sporting News. He has three children, two degrees and one now unverified Twitter account.