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NFL Draft Profile – QB J.J. McCarthy

By Doug Orth | 4/1/24 |

J.J. McCarthy


College: Michigan
Height/Weight: 6’ 2’’/219
Hands: 9"
Age: 21 (at the time of the 2024 season opener)

Important NFL Combine Numbers

40-Yard Dash: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A
Broad Jump: N/A
20-Yard Shuttle: 4.23
3-Cone: 6.82

College Production (Stats)

High-end NFL Player Comp(s): Young Carson Wentz

Low-end NFL Player Comp(s): Daniel Jones

Best Scheme Fit: Traditional pro-style offense that relies on play-action, perhaps one that incorporates some RPO (run-pass option) concepts to take advantage of his running ability.

Best Team Fit(s): Broncos, Patriots, Raiders, Vikings, Commanders, Giants

Non-bolded times - Good examples of attribute
Bolded times - Average/poor examples of attribute

Position-Specific Attributes and Grades
Attribute Att Grade Scale Examples
Accuracy 8.5 10.0

0:30, 2:11, 2:22, 5:47, 7:07, 8:00, 11:36

1:10, 1:34, 1:41, 2:13, 2:45, 2:53, 16:14

Anticipation/Tight Window 9.0 10.0

2:47, 3:45, 5:47, 5:59, 6:17, 8:20, 11:36

1:10, 15:01

Decision Making 7.5 10.0

0:06, 3:36, 6:46

0:00, 0:38, 1:46, 5:33, 5:56

Durability 9.5 10.0

6:46, 9:17


Improvisation/Throw On Run 10.0 10.0

0:50, 1:08, 4:39, 15:47

0:00, 5:56

Poise/Awareness 9.0 10.0

2:02, 2:06, 3:50, 6:46, 15:47

1:46, 6:42

Vision/Read Progression 8.5 10.0

0:06, 0:09, 2:22, 5:59, 7:00

0:38, 3:06, 3:14, 9:16

Athleticism/Mobility 4.5 5.0

0:35, 2:06, 3:36, 6:37, 6:46, 10:15, 10:41

Arm Strength 4.5 5.0

3:07, 4:23?, 5:22, 11:17


Film Grade 66.0 80.0

Pre-Draft Fantasy Prospect Grade* (out of 50): 38.0

* - How well does his skill set carry over to the fantasy game? For quarterbacks, a player needs to be a realistic threat for 4,000 passing yards and 500 rushing yards to be a candidate for a perfect grade. Positional scarcity at the pro level is also a part of the equation.


  • Took a major step forward in virtually every facet of his game as the 2023 season concluded.

  • Adept at picking apart a defense from the pocket when he knows he is protected.

  • More than enough arm strength to throw a dart from the opposite hash.

  • His resume features some highly impressive tight window throws.

  • Very good runner who is more than capable of breaking loose for 20 to 30 yards if he breaks contain.

  • Plenty of experience playing from under center and in an offense that emphasized NFL concepts.


  • Highly inconsistent ball placement, especially on out routes; gives defenders a chance to play the ball too often.

  • Arm strength does not show up often enough on deep balls.

  • Willing to go through his progressions but can be a bit slow to come off his primary read.

  • Too many instances where he throws blindly when under pressure.

  • Gives up too much ground under pressure because he relies too much on his athleticism bailing him out of trouble.

  • Fared well on the rare occasion he needed to rally his team, but he was rarely asked (or trusted?) to carry the offense.

Bottom Line

In much the same way C.J. Stroud finished his college career with a bang, McCarthy played arguably the best ball of his college career against Ohio State, Alabama and Washington en route to a national championship. In Stroud's case, his last college game proved to be a sign of things to come in the NFL. Interested teams will hope a similar fate awaits McCarthy, who did not begin looking like a first-round prospect consistently until the last four games of his final year. Perhaps the best traits he displayed throughout the entirety of his career were scrappiness and heart - not unlike the best qualities his former head coach at Michigan (Jim Harbaugh) had during his playing days. Over the last month or so, he just played with more conviction - almost as if the Ohio State game gave him the jolt of confidence he needed to be what the Wolverines thought when they recruited him as a five-star prospect out of IMG Academy (Fla.).

McCarthy's production paints a much different picture of him than his tape. It seems almost laughable he completed 72.3 percent of his passes in 2023 because pinpoint accuracy is not one of his stronger suits. He was very lucky to finish his college career with only 11 interceptions because he put the ball in harm's way much more often than that. (To that end, Pro Football Focus credited him with making a "turnover-worthy play" - a pass that has a high percentage chance to be intercepted or a play where the quarterback did a poor job of taking care of the ball and fumbling - on three percent of his plays in college. That number is on the high end, especially for someone with a career aDOT of 10.1, which is a low number in the college game now.) His 632 career rushing yards do not come close to telling the full story of how good he is as a runner because of how often he lost chunks of yards while giving ground on broken pass plays.

Another concern that evaluators need to consider: if Harbaugh has not been able to groom McCarthy to be a master of the "little things" at the position after three seasons together, who is to say a NFL position coach or offensive coordinator will? McCarthy has the arm talent and athleticism to succeed in the pros, so he has a chance. Time is also on his side, as he will not turn 22 until the start of the NFL postseason. Evaluators can tell themselves that he started to show signs of "getting it" at the end of his college career as well. The comp to a young Wentz is actually a compliment, as some will remember he was a favorite to win a league MVP at one point. It is also an apt comparison now because both quarterbacks believe they have the arm strength to fit throws into places that will drive most coaches crazy. McCarthy may have proved over the final month of his college career that he is ready to be a pro, but he has a lot more tape that suggests he would benefit from a redshirt year. Even then, his upside may be as a slightly above-average starter in the league that needs to rely on play-action and a strong ground game.

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Doug Orth has written for FFToday since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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