Is QB J.J. McCarthy the Will Levis of the 2024 NFL Draft?

  • A projected top QB pick fell to the second round last year
  • McCarthy just won a national championship at Michigan 
  • He did not throw the ball much compared to his draft-mates
  • Jim Harbaugh called McCarthy the best QB in the draft
JJ McCarthy
Is J.J. McCarthy going to fall down the NFL Draft board? [Image: / MGoBlog]

The time is nearing

The days are counting down until the 2024 NFL Draft on April 25, and names such as Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and J.J. McCarthy are dominating headlines everywhere.

Who will be the first player selected? Which team will make a splash and trade up? Which organizations will be deemed the biggest heroes and losers of the day?

All great questions. But if there’s anything to take from last year’s draft, it’s that nothing is for certain. Especially not with the power of the internet.

Things aren’t as they seem

Bryce Young appeared to be a lock to be the first name off the board in the 2023 NFL Draft until just days before the ceremony when an anonymous Reddit user claimed to have inside information.

“Will Levis is currently +4000 to be the first overall pick. Well ladies and gentleman, he’s telling friends and family Carolina will in fact take him on Thursday. You’re welcome,” someone going by “SaleAgreeable2834” posted on the online discussion site.

With no real proof supporting the post, Levis jumped to +500 to be the first pick of the draft, giving him an implied probability of 15.38 percent. 

Levis shockingly fell to the Tennessee Titans in the second round

Ultimately, Young was still chosen first, while Levis shockingly fell to the Tennessee Titans in the second round. Many were left wondering what happened to the Reddit insider, but the bigger takeaway was that everything is not always as it appears.

Back to the present. The upcoming draft is considered to be the most quarterback-rich pool of talent in modern history. Williams, Daniels, McCarthy, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., Bo Nix, and others all have reasonable chances of hearing their names called in the first round, while betting odds suggest that the first four picks will all be used on quarterbacks for the first time in NFL history.

With last year’s cautionary tale shining an apprehensive light on the upcoming draft, there’s one player that could capsize the entire event.

Is J.J. McCarthy a draft smokescreen?

According to DraftKings, Williams is -10,000 to be the first pick in the draft, and Daniels is -275 to be second. Those two are safe.

Maye is -170 to be third, which also follows most scouts’ opinions. Trouble arises with J.J. McCarthy, who is second in odds to be taken third and fourth but isn’t favored in any pick slot.

only threw 22.1 passes per game

McCarthy is a divisive figure in the football community. A national champion at Michigan, the former four-star prospect only threw 22.1 passes per game and finished with 2,991 yards, 22 touchdowns, and four interceptions.

For comparison, Maye, believed to be the third-best QB in the draft, threw 35.4 passes per game and finished with 3,608 yards, 24 TDs, and nine INTS in two fewer games.

Despite less-than-glamorous numbers and not being allowed to throw the ball even close to the frequency of the other top prospects, McCarthy’s college coach and the new coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, Jim Harbaugh, said that he was the best QB in the draft.

“I’ve said it before,” Harbaugh said to reporters at the NFL’s owners meeting. “I think he’s the best quarterback in the draft. That’s just what I think.”

Despite the endorsement, many experts and retired players have said they don’t believe that the former Wolverine is even worthy of a first-round pick, much less a top-five pick.

The Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Denver Broncos are among several teams that are rumored to be interested in trading up to take McCarthy. 

He surged in odds to be taken second or third overall last week. His lowest odds are +175 to be taken fourth, behind Marvin Harrison Jr. (-190). 

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