J.J. McCarthy

J.J. McCarthy

Image courtesy of the Minnesota Vikings

J.J. McCarthy at Vikings rookie minicamps at TCO Performance Center in Eagan, Minnesota.

The Minnesota Vikings have bet their future on rookie J.J. McCarthy, and when it comes to quarterbacks, it’s never too early for a franchise to start getting ahead of injury risks before they turn into actual problems.

Alec Lewis of The Athletic has been studying McCarthy during practices since offseason work began in earnest earlier this month. Based on what he’s seen, Lewis has offered a couple of observations on McCarthy’s throwing prowess as well as the potential for his mechanics to cause some health issues in his right arm.

“Pitching coaches often use the term: ‘The ball explodes out of his hand.’ The same cliché applies to McCarthy, whose ball spirals so tightly through the air you almost expect flames to flow from behind,” Lewis wrote on Wednesday, May 22. “He generates his velocity with efficient mechanics and a fluid motion. If anything, the Vikings will have to monitor the torque on his arm.”

Lewis later elaborated about the possible concerns to McCarthy’s elbow that could arise with time.

“McCarthy’s mechanics look clean, and you don’t generate the velocity he does without having efficient movements, beginning with his lower body,” Lewis wrote, per The Purple Persuasion X account. “Sometimes, though, he tends to over-stride, which can force him to rely on his arm (which he can be successful doing on occasion). For example, take Matthew Stafford [of the Los Angeles Rams]. He throws bullets across the field, and in recent years, elbow injuries have required him to alter some of his training.”

J.J. McCarthy Soaking Up as Much Knowledge as Possible From Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold, J.J. McCarthy

GettyVikings quarterbacks Sam Darnold (left) and J.J. McCarthy (right).

Lewis also noted in his report from OTAs on May 22 that McCarthy met fellow Vikings quarterback Sam Darnold at the Target Center during Game 4 of the second-round NBA playoff series between the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets.

McCarthy began trying to absorb knowledge on what it means to be a QB in the NFL from the jump.

“McCarthy has asked [Darnold] countless questions inside the quarterback room in recent days, and Darnold has responded willingly and openly. The more he can share, he feels, the better,” Lewis wrote. “Darnold was asked if there are any elements to a quarterback’s introduction to the NFL that go under the radar in terms of importance. Darnold responded by mentioning a quarterback’s environment: the coaches, the skill players, the system and the vibes within the quarterback room.”

Vikings Likely to Start Sam Darnold to Begin Season, Though J.J. McCarthy Could Take Reins if Ready

Sam Darnold, Minnesota Vikings

GettyQuarterback Sam Darnold of the Minnesota Vikings.

Darnold figures to begin the season as the Vikings’ starter, given the team signed him to a one-year contract worth $10 million this spring after a stint in 2023 as the backup for the San Francisco 49ers.

Minnesota has also been unequivocal in its position that the team will not rush McCarthy into a starting role just because it used the No. 10 pick to select him in the first round of the most recent NFL draft.

That said, if McCarthy hits all of the benchmarks the Vikings coaching staff has laid out in front of him and outplays Darnold in practice, the rookie could find himself in the starting lineup at some point this season.


Max Dible covers the NFL, NBA and MLB for Heavy.com, with a focus on the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. He covered local and statewide news as a reporter for West Hawaii Today and served as news director for BigIslandNow.com and Pacific Media Group’s family of Big Island radio stations before joining Heavy. More about Max Dible

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