NFL Draft Analyst Calls J.J. McCarthy Intriguing but Prefers Other Options for Atlanta Falcons

Should the Atlanta Falcons consider J.J. McCarthy at No. 8 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft? One NFL Draft analyst expresses hesitation.

Is J.J. McCarthy worth the risk for the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft, or should they survey other options? One NFL Draft analyst says McCarthy’s talent allures, but uncertainty remains.

J.J. McCarthy Intrigues at No. 8 but Isn’t Top Option for Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons need a QB. General manager Terry Fontenot admitted as much just last week on an NFL Network segment.

But the bigger question is how the Falcons get that QB. Caleb Williams and Drake Maye are almost assuredly out of reach for Atlanta. And depending on how the board falls at No. 8 in the 2024 NFL Draft, options could be limited.

LSU QB Jayden Daniels could be a potential choice for Atlanta, but it’s not a guarantee he will make it to the eighth pick. If Daniels is gone and the Falcons don’t trade up, they could be limited to Michigan’s McCarthy or Oregon’s Bo Nix.

During a recent conference call with media, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Matt Miller was asked to provide his thoughts on such a scenario and whether he thought McCarthy or Nix would be worth the No. 8 selection.

“I would not want to bet my job on drafting J.J. McCarthy or Bo Nix at eighth overall,” Miller said. “Personally, I think you have to try Kirk Cousins first. Then I think you have to try calling for Justin Fields. Then I think you can ask yourself if this team can work with a Jacoby Brissett-type while preparing McCarthy for year two.”

Miller is of the mind that the Falcons should first look to free agency and trade options before considering a second-tier QB prospect at No. 8 overall. Cousins and Fields both make sense for the Falcons, but Cousins, in particular, could line up with the team’s window.

Cousins fits well with Atlanta’s roster, which is built to win now. And Raheem Morris, the team’s new head coach, hired Zac Robinson as his offensive coordinator — a rising schematic mind who comes from the same Sean McVay tree as Cousins’ head coach at Minnesota, Kevin O’Connell.

Not only that, but O’Connell and Robinson were both on McVay’s Los Angeles Rams staff through 2020 and 2021. Robinson’s affinity for Cousins’ style of passer could allow the Falcons offense to integrate Cousins quickly and potentially compete in 2024.

Fields is a less certain option at QB, as he requires growth as a passer. But Miller stated he’d rather trade Day 2 capital for Fields and build the offense around his talent than use a top-10 pick on a passer with question marks.

McCarthy’s Youth and Talent Ensures He Will Go Top 10

Nothing is a guarantee in the 2024 NFL Draft, especially for a prospect like McCarthy. He has a national title under his belt, and he’s an accurate, efficient passer with good tools. But he wasn’t often asked to elevate his roster at Michigan, and there’s still room to grow on the operational side.

Those factors played into Miller’s deference from McCarthy at No. 8 overall, but when answering another question, Miller acknowledged the attractive parts of McCarthy’s profile — most notably his age as a 21-year-old rookie and his natural talent.

“I am really intrigued by J.J.,” Miller expanded. “The thing I hear from scouts is: Great arm strength. Only lost one game in two seasons of college football. And then it’s the ability to get better. The athletic ability is there. He’s got room to get bigger and stronger, but there are throws he made against Alabama and Ohio State that made me go: ‘Yes, that’s a top-10 pick.'”

MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator With Trades

Talent is not the question with McCarthy, and because he’s so young, with so much more time on his developmental track, one team is bound to deem him worth a top-10 investment. QB scarcity serves as a value multiplier, and McCarthy’s oozing potential only compounds that.

It remains to be seen whether the Falcons will be forced to consider McCarthy or if the Broncos, Vikings, and Raiders will be free to bid for his services. But whatever the case, the Falcons have choices to make as soon as early March.

All the 2024 NFL Draft resources you need — the draft order, the top QBs, the Top 100 prospects, and the full 2024 Big Board — right at your fingertips at Pro Football Network!

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