NFL insider explains why J.J. McCarthy is climbing 2024 draft rankings

NFL insider explains why J.J. McCarthy is climbing 2024 draft rankings originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

A top tier has been established among quarterback prospects entering the 2024 NFL Draft.

USC's Caleb Williams and UNC's Drake Maye have been atop the rankings since last summer. LSU's Jayden Daniels burst onto the scene in 2023 and won the Heisman Trophy with a fantastic season for the Tigers. In fact, some experts now rate Daniels ahead of Maye as the No. 2 QB prospect in this class.

These players probably won't be the only quarterbacks selected in Round 1 in April, though. Oregon's Bo Nix and Washington's Michael Penix Jr. have a chance to hear their names called on Day 1 as well. Another player in the mix is Michigan's J.J. McCarthy.

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Mike Giardi of the Boston Sports Journal wouldn't be surprised if McCarthy ends up being a top 10 pick when it's all said and done.

"He's definitely moving up the board," Giardi said Tuesday on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition. "He might have already been there -- as usual with the media and draft things, we get to it a little bit later than the buzz in league circles.

"He didn't go to the Senior Bowl even though he was eligible as a junior as they changed the rules this year, and he probably helped his cause because Bo Nix and Michael Penix didn't show out. So now if he was in that second tier of quarterbacks, he moves ahead of those guys. And then you just talk to people down there and -- look, some of the metrics with him are outstanding. His ability to deliver on third down, and they played in some tough games.

"(McCarthy) is gonna test off the charts. He's a phenomenal athlete, he's got a big arm. He's climbing fast and, again, if teams aren't willing to move at picks No. 1, 2 and 3, would I be shocked if by the end of this, J.J. McCarthy is a top 10 pick? I would not be."

McCarthy wasn't asked to throw a ton for the Wolverines this past season. Michigan rode a dominant rushing attack to a national championship.

But when the moment came for McCarthy to step up and make winning plays against elite competition, he often rose to the challenge. He was a major reason why Michigan closed out the season with impressive wins over Ohio State, Alabama and Washington.

McCarthy completed 72.3 percent of his passes for 2,994 yards with 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 15 games for the Wolverines in 2023. He also ran for 202 yards and scored three rushing touchdowns.

The Patriots taking McCarthy at No. 3 overall would be too much of a gamble. But if they trade down in an effort to stockpile more picks, maybe they would consider him at some other point in Round 1.