NFL Hot Press: Teams Compare J.J. McCarthy to Will Levis, Daniel Jones

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During the 2022 college football season, there was a lot of talk about C.J. Stroud not using his feet to set up throws, not showing creativity, and not being able to ad lib his team into big plays. However, Stroud showed those skills in Ohio State’s playoff loss to Georgia. This year, another Big Ten quarterback has a lot to prove in a playoff game versus a tough SEC Champion, with Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy facing off against Alabama. spoke with sources from multiple NFL teams, and they said they view McCarthy as an early-round prospect, but one with some flaws. They called McCarthy a similar player to Giants quarterback Daniel Jones and Titans quarterback Will Levis.

One AFC director of player personnel told

“J.J. is similar to Levis, but J.J. has better feel in the pocket than Levis did,” said “J.J. has a strong arm, is pretty good throwing outside the numbers. But I question his vision and instincts. He’s late throwing down the middle of the field, and that leads to some misses. He misses quite a bit vertically because he’s late on throws. I’m not sure what he’s looking at, so we will have to find that out in the interviews.

“I don’t like the decision-making, and he can be careless and reckless with the ball, which is surprising for a Harbaugh guy. J.J. is more talented than a game manager, but the instinctive issues are concerning.”

Levis and Jones also had good skill sets and generated similar concerns over their passing instincts. McCarthy played a very easy schedule in 2023, but recorded only one 300-yard passing game – against Purdue. Heading into the playoffs, he has completed 74 percent of his passes in 2023 for 2,630 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also has three rushing touchdowns. Some NFL team sources said McCarthy was not that impressive in part because Michigan didn’t ask him to do very much as a passer.

Thus, the bowl playoff against Alabama will present an opportunity for McCarthy. It could be hard for Michigan to run against the Crimson Tide, so it will be on McCarthy to make some plays to produce points. Like Stroud a year ago, a big game against the SEC champions could be huge for easing doubts about McCarthy as a prospective NFL quarterback.