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It should be McCarthy vs. Cousins at U.S. Bank Stadium in December

A week ago, in the name of service and my own curiosity, I did some research on the last 10 years of the NFL draft and how soon it took quarterbacks chosen in the first round to make their starting debuts.

The overwhelming majority of those first round QBs either started from Week 1 of their rookie years or took over a handful of weeks into the season. There were notable exceptions like Patrick Mahomes and the extreme case of Jordan Love, but that was the standard.

In this era where teams are trying to both maximize the value of a player's first contract while also feeling the pressure to turn things around quickly, patience is in short supply.

But as Ben Goessling and I talked about on Thursday's "Access Vikings" podcast, the Vikings will let J.J. McCarthy's development — not pressure or history — be their guide as to how soon the No. 10 overall pick plays.

Given that, while also factoring in the nature of the Vikings' schedule released Wednesday, trying to figure out when McCarthy will make his debut becomes a trickier challenge.

The simplest answer, of course, is that McCarthy blows the Vikings away and is clearly ready to be the starter in Week 1 at age 21. That seems like a less than 50-50 proposition given how the Vikings seem to want to proceed and their one-year investment in Sam Darnold, but you never know.

After that, there might be an opportunity in a Week 3 home game against the Texans. But after that game, the Vikings go to Lambeau Field and then face the Jets in London. Is that how you want your rookie QB to get his feet wet?

The bye week follows the London trip, which seems like a perfect opportunity to switch from Darnold to McCarthy. But out of the bye the Vikings face the NFC North favorite Lions followed by a game four days later on Thursday night at the L.A. Rams.

Week 9 at home against the Colts is a good candidate for a switch, but then after that there are three straight road games.

So maybe they stretch it out to Week 13 against the Cardinals, the start of a closing stretch with four of the last six games at home?

Even if it does take that long, barring injury or Darnold playing like a top-10 QB and having the Vikings in surprising contention, McCarthy figures to be the starter in Week 14 on Dec. 8 when the Vikings host the Falcons — as does ex-Viking Kirk Cousins, even though Atlanta drafted Michael Penix Jr. two spots ahead of McCarthy after Cousins signed an expensive multiyear contract with Atlanta.

Regardless of when (or if) it happens, this much is true: The quarterback uncertainty makes it harder to predict this Vikings season than any other in recent memory.