Charley Walters: Look for Vikings to trade up to draft J.J. McCarthy

The way it looks now, as it has for months, the Minnesota Vikings will take quarterback J.J. McCarthy from national champion Michigan in Thursday’s NFL draft.

To get McCarthy, the Vikings will trade their Nos. 11 and 23 first-round picks to either the Arizona Cardinals, who have the No. 4 pick, or the Los Angeles Chargers, who have No. 5.

QBs Caleb Williams from Southern California, Jayden Daniels from LSU and Drake Maye from North Carolina are expected to go Nos. 1, 2 and 3, in order, to the Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders and New England Patriots.

— The Cardinals or Chargers could also require the Vikings’ 2025 first-round pick in a move up for McCarthy. The Vikings would be reluctant because the 2025 pick is expected to be high in that the team seems destined for a last-place NFC North Division finish this year. The Vikings, if necessary, instead could try to include their 2026 first-rounder to get McCarthy.

— The Vikings currently do not have a second- or third-round pick in next week’s draft.

— It’s becoming clear that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, in his third year with the Vikings, doesn’t have the power within the organization that his predecessor, Rick Spielman, had. Passing on a top quarterback on Thursday could end up costing his job.

— Vikings fans at the team’s draft party at U.S. Bank Stadium will boo loudly if a quarterback isn’t chosen in the first round. The Vikings’ fallback QB pick is Bo Nix from Oregon.

— The Vikings remain in the NFL queue to host a draft at U.S. Bank Stadium and adjoining Commons, but that’s still multiple years away. The same for hosting the league’s scouting combine, which has always been held in Indianapolis. Los Angeles, though, remains ahead of Minneapolis when the NFL decides to leave Indianapolis.

— On the increased value of football wide receivers, ex-Viking Cris Carter recently told Front Office Sports that when he used to coach football camps, about 50 out of 100 kids wanted to be quarterbacks. Now, 50 out of 100 want to be wide receivers.

— The Twins’ front office feels third baseman Royce Lewis, although injured again, can not only be the face of the franchise, but of Major League Baseball.

— If he didn’t already know how cold a business major league baseball can be, former Gopher Max Meyer from Woodbury last week found out when the Miami Marlins, for which Meyer had pitched two of their three victories, dispatched him to Triple-A Jacksonville in order to slow his free agency by a year.

The demotion was blatantly unfair for the 25-year-old right-hander, for whom the faltering Twins should be in hot pursuit of a trade.

— Simley grad Michael Busch, 26, who last week for the Chicago Cubs homered in five straight games and has six for the season, has become the National League’s early frontrunner for rookie of the year. Busch, who also has three doubles, leads the team’s regulars in hitting (.317) and is tied with Cody Bellinger for first in runs batted in (13).

— Former Stillwater star Drew Gilbert, who is among the New York Mets’ top prospects, and his Triple-A Syracuse team play a six-game series against the Saints in St. Paul June 4-9. Gilbert, 23, playing center field, is hitting .240 with one home run in 25 at-bats.

— Ex-Twin Miguel Sano, 30, playing for $1 million this season for the Los Angeles Angels, is batting .256, which would rank fourth on the Twins.

— Bloomington Jefferson grad Jake Irwin of the Washington Nationals pitched six scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers last week.

— Ex-Twins center-fielder Michael Taylor is hitting .300 in 15 games for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

— Tommy John III, the winner of the 1996 Minnesota Gatorade high school player of the year at Orono as a third baseman-pitcher, the last 23 years has been involved in training and rehabilitation of injuries and human performance in San Diego, Calif. John was living in Orono because his father was then a Twins TV analyst.

John III played for Furman University, then pitched professionally for 2 1/2 seasons in independent minor league baseball.

John III is 46. His father, 80, who resides in Sarasota, Fla., besides having won 288 games during 26 major league seasons, is famous for the revolutionary ligament replacement surgery in his left pitching arm after which he won 164 games.

Inexplicably, he is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“When (former Twin) Jim Kaat got inducted (in 2022), one of his first calls he made was to my dad and he said that this is just ridiculous and if I have any say it, I will do everything in my power to get you in,” John III said.

By the way, John III said, his father owns the record, by far, for most no-decisions in major league baseball.

— Pat Fraher, 50, who was valedictorian of his Hastings High School class and has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota, has been awarded his 16th NBA playoff series as a referee.

— Former Apple Valley point guard Tyus Jones, already rich at age 27, this season had 485 assists against just 66 turnovers for the Washington Wizards, the Stein Line points out. That 7.3 assists per turnover is the highest since the NBA began tracking individual turnovers in 1977-78. Jones, now a free agent, was paid $14.5 million this season. That will increase with his next deal.

— That was Totino-Grace grad Joe Alt, expected to be a top-10 pick in Thursday’s NFL draft, flying over Detroit, the site of the draft, in a Black Hawk helicopter last week in a promotion for the U.S. military.

Alt, who is a country music fan, asked on the “Green Light with Chris Long” show what purchase he might make after the draft: “There’s this used Ford Shelby truck about 10 minutes from my house, and that’s what I’ve been looking at. It’s got 7,000 miles on it.”

— Country music star Dierks Bentley was spotted in the stands in Eden Prairie the other day watching son Knox, considered an elite youth hockey player in the Nashville area, compete in a national tournament, according to KRFO-AM.

— Last weekend’s Masters tournament at Augusta National was the 18th that Mark Dusbabek, the former Gophers and Vikings linebacker from Faribault, has worked as a PGA Tour rules judge. His current tour role is senior director of TV rules.

Dusbabek, 59, who is working this weekend’s RBC Heritage tournament at Hilton Head, S.C., basically works all the Tour’s TV network events as a rules analyst. He’ll be at the TPC in Blaine for the 3M Open TV weekend coverage in July.

Eighteen Masters?

“After so many of them, I feel more comfortable,” Dusbabek said. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of the Masters rules committee people. I know my way around the golf course very well, the little shortcuts here and there. It’s changed a lot in my 18 years, expanded and grown, and it’s even better than it was. It’s a special week.”

Dusbabek, who resides in San Diego, has no plans to retire. As a golfer, he got his handicap down to a 2, but that was years ago.

“Don’t play anymore — don’t have the time,” he said.

— Ben Johnson, Mark Coyle and Jeremiah Carter from the Gophers will discuss name, image and likeness (NIL) at a Capital Club breakfast at Mendakota Country Club on Wednesday, the same day retired major league baseball umpire crew chief Tim Tschida from St. Paul speaks at a Twin Cities Dunkers breakfast at Interlachen Country Club.

— Ex-North Star Mike Modano will be honored by the Twin Cities Dunkers at a dinner May 2 at St. Paul RiverCentre.

— New GM at the Wilderness golf resort at Fortune Bay is Bill Manahan, who managed Cloquet Country Club.

Don’t print that

— A mediation attempt to solve the Timberwolves-Lynx $1.5 billion sale dispute between Glen Taylor and the Alex Rodriguez-Marc Lore duo isn’t expected to produce a settlement.

The way it looks now, before a binding arbitration by a panel of three judges, Taylor will buy out Rodriguez-Lore in a settlement for a price higher — between 10 percent and 20 percent — than their 36 percent investment of $600 million. Rodriguez-Lore’ partners are 4 percent investors.

Meanwhile, after the playoffs, it’ll be interesting whether Timberwolves basketball president Tim Connelly, despite an $8 million per season salary, executes a contract buyout clause.

— People who know say Cam Christie’s decision to opt for June’s NBA draft was made weeks ago when it was projected that the worst outcome for the 6-foot-6 Gophers freshman guard is a two-way contract probably worth $1 million over two years, even if he’s not a first-round pick.

If Christie, 19, who has considerable pro upside, is a first-round draft pick, he would receive at least a $4 million, two-year guaranteed contract. Amir Coffey, 26, the 6-7 former Gopher, left the university after three seasons but went undrafted. He ended up with three two-way NBA contracts before signing his current $11 million, three-year deal with the Los Angeles Clippers.

— Considering the new name, image and likeness landscape, if Power Five conference men’s basketball programs want to be successful, they’ll need a major agency to bankroll incoming AAU and foreign players. Without, programs are not sustainable. Otherwise, when a player has a good season, he’s gone to the highest bidder. That’s what happened to the Gophers with Jamison Battle, who bolted for Ohio State for $150,000 for his final season. And now, the prices are even higher.

— Word at Arkansas is that new men’s basketball coach John Calipari’s 12-player NIL budget will exceed $5 million annually. That’s five times more than that of the Gophers.

— Whitey Herzog, the St. Louis Cardinals manager who died at age 92 last week, to the Pioneer Press seven years ago recalling his team’s 1987 seven-game World Series loss to the Twins, who played in the Metrodome: “I remember they had the greatest home field advantage of any team I’ve ever seen in the major leagues. (The Metrodome) was the hardest place in the world to play for a National League team. We went in there on Friday (Oct. 16) and couldn’t work out because (the Gophers football team had a game (against Indiana). And you couldn’t see in the roof. Then the (groundskeeper) guy, when he retired admitted he only put the blowers on when the Twins hit.

“It wasn’t like I’m saying we could have beat them, but I could tell you right now we could have played in the ‘Homedome’ till goldamn Easter and wouldn’t have won a game. I wish we would have gotten to work out. But I don’t know — I mean, working out with the fans not there, without the handkerchiefs and the noise, you couldn’t hear and you couldn’t see. It’s bad enough you can’t see, but when you can’t hear, it’s a little tough, you know. How we got to seven games is beyond me.”

— Ex-Twin Torii Hunter has joined the Angels as a special assistant to the GM and made the honorary first pitch at a recent Angels game.

Meanwhile, hall of fame former Twin-Angel Rod Carew, who lives in Orange County, Calif., has become estranged from the Angels’ front office over its denial to allow him to be a guest instructor to occasionally work with some of the team’s hitters, which, by the way, the Twins allow with their hitters, the L.A. Times reports. The Angels consider Carew’s request a conflict of interest, which has, among other issues, upset Carew.

— The department in charge of authenticating Twins game-used items for sale was charging $3,000 for a baseball the Dodgers’ high-profile Shohei Ohtani hit for a double in the third inning on April 9 at Target Field. The ball Ohtani hit for a fly out in the fifth inning of the same game was for sale for $550.

— Ex-Carolina QB Cam Newton, 34, on the Atlanta Falcons giving ex-Vikings QB Kirk Cousins, 35, a $180 million, four-year contract, on Shannon Sharpe’s podcast: “They could have got Cam Newton, Justin Fields and Michael Vick for that price…And if you give Cousins my resume, he probably would’ve got more money.”

— Lefty pitcher Tyler Jay, the Twins’ first-round draft pick in 2015 (No. 6 overall), last week got his first career promotion to the majors with the New York Mets.

— It now appears Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson won’t be getting his mega-contract extension — probably $100 million guaranteed — until just before training camp opens in late July.

— It’s a sticky issue, but it looks like former Minnesota boys high school golf champion Sammy Udovich, a junior at Cretin-Derham Hall who has committed to Texas Christian, could be ineligible for the state tournament for playing 18 extra holes in an outside tournament.

— Bob Stein, 76, the former Gophers football All-American, recalls playing against USC’s O.J. Simpson, who died at 76 the other day.

“It was our opening game in 1968 at Memorial Stadium,” Stein said. “We ended up losing by nine points, but we were ahead going into the fourth quarter. Then O.J. turned it on. He was the best running back I ever played against in college and the NFL.”

— Next month, Stein, the former St. Louis Park star, will play in the College Football Hall of Fame golf tournament in Atlanta.


— Former Twins pinch-hitting whiz Steve Braun, who became hitting coach for Whitey Herzog with St. Louis, on the Cardinals’ genius GM-manager: “Whitey proposed an 11-player trade (in December 1980) with (Brewers GM) Harry Dalton. He said, ‘Harry, you want to be in the World Series with us next year?’ They made the trade and both played in the (1982) World Series … When Whitey made a trade, it was to benefit both teams, because he wanted to go back at some point and maybe make another deal with them.”

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