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Why Pats shouldn't overlook J.J. McCarthy in first round

The New England Patriots could find their next franchise quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. Either UNC’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels is expected to arrive in Foxboro via the third overall pick.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy hasn’t been linked to New England as often. The 2023 College Football Playoff national champion is widely considered the fourth or fifth-best quarterback in the class, making him an afterthought for those clamoring for the Patriots to take a QB at No. 3.

Is there a chance McCarthy is being underrated heading into the draft? Should New England consider selecting him at No. 3 or picking him after trading down in the first round?

FantasyPros draft analyst Thor Nystrom believes so, and he made a strong case for McCarthy as a top-three QB in the draft during the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.

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“I think he’s really, really good. He’s the QB3 on my board,” Nystrom told hosts Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry. “Really, really good athlete. He’s going to run in the high 4.4s, low 4.5s if he runs at his pro day. We have very credible reports on that. He weighed into the NFL Combine 17 pounds heavier than he was listed on his Michigan bio and proceeded to run the fifth fastest three-cone at the entire NFL combine regardless of position.

“The arm strength, he has an absolute cannon, the fastest pass that they’ve ever tracked the max velocity at the NFL combine, 62 miles per hour. Josh Allen did it several years ago. Joe Milton matched it this year. J.J. McCarthy had a 61-mile-per-hour throw. His deep throwing on a per-pass basis was very good last year at Michigan. Pressure numbers, very good.”

Nystrom pinpointed one of McCarthy’s most notable abilities, which should help him adjust quickly to the NFL.

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“What I love most about his game and the translation to the NFL, it’s throwing on the run. He is special at that,” Nystrom said. “He’s a guy who keeps his eyes up. He keeps the upper body cocked to throw the entire time with his legs under him. He always has his senses about him, knows where the pass rushers are and everything like that. Does a good job manipulating the pocket before he starts moving. But once he starts moving, he gets even more dangerous and doesn’t lose any accuracy whatsoever on the move because of this, because he takes his mechanics with him.

“Like I said, he’s always cocked to throw with those eyes up. I think last year his completion percentage was 72 point something in the aggregate. His completion percentage while scrambling was 71 point something. So he barely lost any percentage off his efficiency numbers while he was on the move.”

“Smart kid, tough kid. Everyone who’s been around him fawns over him. Jim Harbaugh, the Chargers coach, believes he should be the number one overall pick in this draft. There’s a lot of things to like about J.J. McCarthy.”

Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft is set for April 25.

Also in the episode:

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