NFL Draft: Vikings get their Kirk Cousins replacement, trade up for J.J. McCarthy

Quarterback J.J. McCarthy led the Michigan Wolverines to a national championship last season. (Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Minnesota Vikings decided they had enough of paying Kirk Cousins and decided to move on this offseason.

But the plan at quarterback going forward took weeks to be unveiled.

Vikings fans can relax a bit. They have a new quarterback to build around. On Thursday night, the Vikings drafted J.J. McCarthy. The Vikings traded up with the New York Jets to the No. 10 overall pick, which they used on the Michigan quarterback. The Vikings get to start a new era with a player that has a championship pedigree. The Vikings didn't give up too much, trading the 11th, 129th and 157th overall picks to the Jets for No. 10 and No. 203 overall, via Mike Garafolo of NFL Media.

McCarthy had to wait a little bit. Nobody traded up with the Arizona Cardinals at No. 4 or the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 5. The New York Giants, a team that could have taken a quarterback at No. 6, took receiver Malik Nabers instead. The Atlanta Falcons pulled off a major surprise, taking Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 overall and passing on McCarthy. But McCarthy's wait didn't last much longer.

The Cousins era ended without ultimate success. Minnesota hopes this chapter turns out better.

McCarthy was the "player shooting up draft boards" over the past couple months. In reality, NFL teams had long ago taken a liking to McCarthy and analysts were just catching up to it.

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McCarthy has a lot of pluses that NFL teams could embrace. Most important, he played very well during Michigan's 15-0 national championship season. He threw for 22 touchdowns with four interceptions. His numbers would have probably been better but the Wolverines are one of the few college teams that had a run-heavy mindset. Still, the lack of passing volume is one question on McCarthy's résumé.

Otherwise, McCarthy had enough arm strength and athleticism to check those boxes for NFL teams, and his understanding of the game and results on the field last season are impressive.

McCarthy was a clear first-round draft pick, it was just a question of where he'd go. Multiple teams were rumored to have interest. Some mock drafts had him going in the top five.

McCarthy waited longer than some expected to hear his name called on Thursday night. But he ends up in a pretty good spot with the Vikings.

Kevin O'Connell is a good coach, and he has an offensive background. The Vikings have Justin Jefferson, arguably the top receiver in the NFL, and hit big on first-round pick Jordan Addison at receiver last year. T.J. Hockenson is a top tight end when he returns from ACL surgery.

Most rookie quarterbacks don't land in that good of a spot. McCarthy doesn't have to do too much in the offense, which was a successful formula at Michigan too.

There are questions about McCarthy's ceiling in the NFL. But he should be more than good enough to run a creative offense with many weapons around him. The Vikings didn't pull off a trade to move up to the third pick and get Drake Maye, which they reportedly were trying to do. But they ended up with a pretty good answer at quarterback, and didn't overpay to get him.