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Setting the standard: What to expect from rookie quarterback J.J. McCarthy

The Minnesota Vikings selected quarterback J.J. McCarthy with the 11th pick in the NFL draft with the hopes he would grow into a franchise quarterback.

Of course, McCarthy is just 21 years old and has plenty of time to develop, so what can realistically be expected of the youngster in his first NFL season?

The first thing that will be asked of McCarthy is to see the field. In the modern NFL, just about every quarterback selected in the first round is expected to start Week 1 or soon thereafter (don’t tell Falcons fans this).

The Vikings don’t have a current “guy.” Sam Darnold is their only other realistic option, so it’s not crazy to think McCarthy can take the first offensive snap of the season in Minnesota.

The important thing is that he is made to start when he is ready and not before. If he needs eight games to adjust to the NFL, give him that time. Remember that both Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson spent much of their rookie season on the bench and turned out alright.

Now, there should be some tempered expectations when it comes to his performance. At Michigan, McCarthy was part of an offense that leaned heavily into the run game and rarely needed the passing game to win games. While McCarthy always delivered when called upon, that system simply doesn’t work in the NFL and he will be asked to take on more responsibility if Minnesota wants to be real contenders.

The good news is the Vikings have built a cozy home around their young signal caller.

Minnesota has one of the best receivers in football, Justin Jefferson, and a strong trio of complementary playmakers: Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson and Aaron Jones. They should make McCarthy’s job easier. The offensive line has a couple of question marks, but, overall, is a solid unit, so do not expect to see McCarthy fall victim to the classic rookie pitfall of poor protection.

Overall, Minnesota is a very nice place for a rookie quarterback to land. The Vikings aren’t quite ready to contend yet, but they have a young offensive core that should make for a relatively smooth transition for McCarthy.

I think McCarthy will start all 17 games unless he gets hurt and will put up around 3,250 yards, 20 passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. While those numbers might not leap off the page, they are good for a 21-year-old rookie quarterback and should satisfy Vikings fans.

Story originally appeared on Wolverines Wire