Past Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels, the 2024 NFL Draft QB class is wide open. With his scouting report, can Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy challenge for early-round capital and maybe earn a chance as a presumed franchise QB in Round 1? Let’s take a closer look.
J.J. McCarthy Draft Profile and Measurements
- Height: 6’3″
- Weight: 202 pounds
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Michigan
- Current Year: Junior
Chad Henne was drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft. Jake Rudock was selected in 2016. If the eight-year pattern holds, McCarthy will be Michigan’s next QB selection in the 2024 NFL Draft cycle.
Michigan passers have always naturally had a high standard to meet ever since Tom Brady emerged as an all-time great at the NFL level. It’s important never to helmet scout, but looking at McCarthy’s physical ability, he could be the next Wolverines QB to earn a chance as an NFL starter.
McCarthy signed with Michigan as a high four-star recruit and saw action as a true freshman while sharing reps with Cade McNamara.
In 2022, McCarthy took the full-time starting job and completed 208 of 322 attempts (64.6%) for 2,719 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just five picks while adding 306 yards and five scores on the ground.
McCarthy’s production as an underclassman was extremely promising, and he exceeded it in 2023, completing 230 of 314 attempts (73.2%) for 2,851 yards, 22 touchdowns, and four picks.
Over that two-year span, McCarthy went 27-1 as a starter, won two Big Ten Championships, and helped lead his Wolverines to the CFB National Championship game in 2023.
It goes without saying that McCarthy has wins and losses on his side, and his talent is undeniable. But does he have the composite profile to break into Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft?
J.J. McCarthy Scouting Report
- Has the whip-like velocity to fit throws past extremely tight coverage at all ranges.
- Can throw high-velocity ropes with little strain and has a crisp, right-angle release.
- Uses sidearm and obtuse underhand releases to protect throwing windows from threats.
- Superb athlete and creator with high-level speed, agility, and evasive explosiveness.
- Adaptable in the pocket and improved his poise and navigation in congestion in 2023.
- Can use short-area agility, flexibility, and burst to snake through tiny pocket creases.
- Generally has good areal accuracy, routinely giving his receivers a chance to make plays.
- Can beautifully layer velocity and touch on seam throws to hit receivers in stride.
- Able to lead WRs low on tight intermediate crossers to negate looming contact threats.
- Relatively mechanically sound QB at his age, with good hip rotation and level shoulders.
- Has shown he can look off safeties and then take what’s given in the short range.
- Flashes high-level anticipation and risk propensity on tight-window throws.
- Able to work high to low on progressions, peel off vertical routes, and trigger on reads.
- Can quickly process velocity and leverage mismatches in the deep third, triggering early.
- Has good baseline competitive toughness as a runner and is willing to finish forward.
- Frame is noticeably lean, which contributes to a lack of play strength amidst contact.
- Pressure threats can cause him to drop his eyes, hesitate, and pause mid-release.
- Sometimes inexplicably drifts into pressure and can be more disciplined with positioning.
- Will sometimes predetermine throws and force passes against tight coverage.
- Occasionally fails to see looming LBs on short passes, calling field vision into question.
- At times, forces ill-advised throws in collapsing situations when he should throw it away.
- Can be more consistent using controlled shoulder tilt and layering to add loft on throws.
- Situational precision, while good, can be more consistent over the middle of the field.
- On occasion, tugs his release too wide and pushes passes too far above his targets.
- Can still be a bit uncontrolled and frantic at the top of his drop, affecting base width.
- Benefits from his surroundings and isn’t always asked to elevate his team.
Current Draft Projection and Summary
Heading into the 2023 campaign, McCarthy graded out as a Day 2 QB prospect on my board.
His grade has improved, placing him in the fringe-Round 1 range, but he’s still a couple of tiers behind Maye and Williams and arguably in the next tier down from Daniels, Michael Penix Jr., and Bo Nix.
A tremendous physical foundation is what buoys McCarthy’s profile in the early-round range. Though he sports a leaner build, he’s a high-level athlete and a high-level creator with an extremely loose and elastic arm.
His combined evasive ability, flexibility, and off-platform torque expand the possibilities with him on the field, and as a thrower, he has the ease of velocity and angle freedom to make all the throws.
Far more than once, McCarthy reassured onlookers with his development in 2023, showing improved pocket poise, mechanical rhythm, decision-making, and active anticipation and field manipulation.
While McCarthy is better now than he was a year ago, lapses in those areas still occur. He’s still not quite as consistent as preferred as a processor and decision-maker, and it’s worth wondering if he’s ready to elevate an NFL squad as a franchise quarterback.
All this being said, McCarthy has progressed in light of his 2023 campaign, and he’s always been a natural thrower. His natural mechanical feel culminates in good general accuracy as well — all traits that are emboldened by McCarthy’s NFL starter-grade tools.
On one hand, McCarthy could have reason to return to school and compete for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2025 NFL Draft. But if he wins the Championship, he’s grown enough to contend for Round 1 capital in the 2024 NFL Draft as a future NFL starter.
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