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NFL Draft

New England Patriots Top 30 Visit: Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy



Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) throws a pass during the first half of the Rose Bowl CFP NCAA semifinal college football game against Alabama Monday, Jan. 1, 2024, in Pasadena, Calif. McCarthy is one of the quarterbacks under consideration for the Patriots in the 2024 NFL Draft. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Every NFL franchise is allowed to invite up to 30 draft prospects to visit their facilities and meet with the members of the organization before the NFL Draft. These selections range from first-round targets to players who might be available as undrafted free agents. As news about the New England Patriots Top 30 visits surface, Patriots Football Now will highlight each of the visitors. Today’s feature is Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy.

College Career

J.J. McCarthy was a five-star recruit coming out of IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. according to 247 Sports composite ranks. The LaGrange Park, Ill native ranked as the No. 25 player in the country, No. 5 quarterback, and No. 6 player coming out of Florida in the Class of 2021. He was a high school teammate of Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham, projected to be a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

McCarthy committed to Michigan. He did not redshirt a season as a true freshman. He served as Cade McNamara’s backup, appearing in 11 games. McCarthy passed for 516 yards and five touchdowns in limited time. He ran for an additional 124 yards and two touchdowns.

The 2022 season saw him take over the starting QB role and play in all 14 games. The Wolverines finished with a 13-1 record. Their only loss came in the CFB Playoffs against TCU, a 51-45 defeat.

Michigan came back even better in 2023, finishing 15-0 and winning the CFP National Championship.

In addition to his team’s success, the QB earned some individual accolades as well. He was named Offensive MVP of the 2024 National Championship Game. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors in 2022 and moved up to first-team in 2023.

J.J. McCarthy finished his career at Ann Arbor 28-1 as a starting quarterback. He completed 67.6% of his passes for 6,226 yards, 49 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. He also ran for 632 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Pro Football Focus thought McCarthy showed great improvement in his time at Michigan. After giving him a grade of 77.7 in 2022, it moved up to 90.6 in 2023. It is a positive trajectory for a player who did not turn 21 until January.

NFL Draft

Unlike other top quarterbacks, J.J. McCarthy did compete at the NFL Scouting Combine. He measured 6-foot-2.5 and weighed 219 pounds. Although he did not run a 40-yard dash, he did throw. His performance was not outstanding, but he impressed people with his desire to compete.

McCarthy has good size and excellent fundamentals for the position. However, what has won over many scouts are his intangibles, such as competitiveness and leadership. One story that has become very popular comes from Chad Brugler’s annual “The Beast” publication.

“Before (J.J. McCarthy) signed, he was telling other Michigan recruits that if they wanted to party and chase girls, go somewhere else. His class was going to be the one that restored Michigan. To have that mentality and then actually go achieve it? He’s different.”

He never passed for 3,000 yards in a season. He never passed for more than 22 touchdown passes. This lack of “production” had many fans surprised when McCarthy began climbing up draft boards. However, the question is whether that matters. McCarthy did whatever it took for his team to win, as evidenced by his 28-1 college record. Michigan had a dominant ground game that prevented them from relying on their quarterback to carry them. Just because he didn’t doesn’t mean he couldn’t. It is what makes McCarthy a great unknown in many respects heading into the draft, despite his stellar resume.

Based on his winning pedigree, fundamentals, intangibles, size, and age, it is unlikely J.J. McCarthy will last beyond the top ten picks in the NFL Draft. The New England Patriots are picking third and the QB from Michigan is clearly on their radar. Patriots executive Eliot Wolf reportedly loves McCarthy. There is certainly a lot to love. Not to mention, Wolverines quarterbacks have worked out pretty well for the Patriots in the past.

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