Minnesota Vikings Rookie Forecast 2024

J.J. McCarthy

Solid Starter

Dallas Turner, DE, Alabama – Round 1

The Vikings have had a vulnerable defense in recent years as Minnesota had their tough defense from the Mike Zimmer years age out while a lot of their high draft picks have been spent on the offensive side of the ball. In 2024, the Vikings got back to drafting for their defensive front seven when they traded up for Turner.

While Turner (6-4, 245) is not the biggest of defenders, he has a natural ability to put pressure on the quarterback. Turner is quick off the ball with a fast first step and a burst to get upfield. With serious speed, Turner can run the arc around offensive tackles and fly to the quarterback. When he gets there, Turner will be physical and can dish out some violent hits on the quarterback. Turner is not a dirty player taking cheap shots, but he will put the signal caller into the turf hard. In pursuit, Turner is a fast defender with a burst to close and is quick to flow to the ball. He can redirect to get pointed to the quarterback and is not a stiff rusher.

As good as Turner is right now as a pass rusher, he could be so much better if he gets good NFL coaching. Some sources think Turner could be a T.J. Watt caliber rusher if he develops pass rushing moves, figures out technique, rush angles, depth of rush, etc. For the NFL, Turner could use more pass rushing moves. Featuring more spins, cuts to the inside, and rip moves would help him when he takes on better competition where they won’t be beaten by just a speed rush.

As a run defender, Turner plays hard against the run and he has some good plays of holding his ground or shedding a block to get in on a tackle. Turner has developed strength and holds his ground surprisingly well for an undersized defender. For the NFL through, Turner lacks some size to play defensive end in a base defense. In a base set he should do some rotating with other ends to protect him and have a bigger defender available for run defense. Turner could have problems holding up against NFL mass for four quarters.

I think in the NFL, Turner is going to be a solid contributing pass rusher after getting some development. However he will always have some problems as a run defender given his size. The Vikings may end up having to rotate Turner a fair amount and that could lead to him capping out as a solid starter rather than being a boom pick.

2023: Jordan Addison, WR
2022: Ed Ingram, G
2021: Wyatt Davis, G
2020: Jeff Gladney, CB
2019: Garrett Bradbury, C
2018: Daniel Carlson, K
2017: Pat Elflein, C
2016: Laquon Treadwell, WR
2015: Trae Waynes, CB
2014: Scott Crichton, DE
2013: Xavier Rhodes, CB

Most Likely To Bust

J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan – Round 1

The Vikings moved up one spot to take McCarthy and there is no doubt that enters the league with good talent around him in wide receivers Jordan Jefferson, Jordan Addison, tight end T.J. Hockenson, and a quality left tackle in Christian Darrisaw. McCarthy has an offensive coach as well to help him develop, but as a player McCarthy was a challenging evaluation being a game manager in college.

There is no doubt that McCarthy has next level ability with the skill set to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. McCarthy has a strong arm to go along with running ability.

There is no doubt that McCarthy has a strong arm capable of making all the throws. With a quick release, McCarthy can fire the ball down the field and attack defenses at all levels. McCarthy shows the power to drive the ball to the sideline and throw the deep out with ease. He also has the ability to fire fastballs into tight windows in the short to intermediate part of the field. While McCarthy has a good arm, he also is capable of lofting in passes and putting air underneath the ball. Many quarterbacks with plus arm strength can have a tendency to throw flat passes but McCarthy avoids that and will throw catchable passes.

McCarthy is a good runner that can hurt defenses on the ground when things break down. At the end of his college career, McCarthy had key plays with his legs and his legs came up with some clutch plays in the National Championship Game. He shows some athleticism to dodge defenders in the pocket and McCarthy has impressive speed to rip off yards while scrambling upfield. Looks can be deceiving as McCarthy is fast for a quarterback.

McCarthy also has good intangibles. He is a tough player that will play injured. Two years starting at a high pressure environment will help him for taking on the rigors of being a starting quarterback in the NFL. McCarthy has the reputation of being a hard worker and having leadership skills.

There also are a lot of areas of improvement for McCarthy entering the NFL as some sources said late in 2023. “J.J. is similar to [Will] Levis, but J.J. has better feel in the pocket than Levis did,” said an AFC director of player personnel. “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.”

This Vikings regime has bet the farm on McCarthy, and if he doesn’t pan out that will probably lead to a regime change in Minnesota. It would not surprise me if he gets forced onto the field and his lack of instincts get exposed in the NFL similar to say a Zach Wilson, E.J. Manuel, or Christian Ponder. Of the Vikings two first-round picks, I think McCarthy has bust potential.

2023: None
2022: Brian Asamoah, LB
2021: Chazz Surratt, LB
2020: Ezra Cleveland, OT
2019: Dru Samia, G
2018: Brian O’Neill, OT
2017: Ben Gedeon, LB
2016: Willie Beavers, OT
2015: Danielle Hunter, DE
2014: Teddy Bridgewater, QB
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR

Potential Boom Pick


The Vikings were without picks on day two of the 2024 NFL Draft and I don’t believe that J.J. McCarthy or Dallas Turner will be a boom pick for Minnesota.

2023: None
2022: Lewis Cine, S
2021: Christian Darrisaw, OT
2020: Justin Jefferson, WR
2019: Irv Smith Jr., TE
2018: Mike Hughes, CB
2017: Dalvin Cook, RB
2016: Mackensie Alexander, CB
2015: Eric Kendricks, LB
2014: Anthony Barr, LB
2013: Sharrif Floyd, DT

Future Depth Player

Walter Rouse, OT, Oklahoma – Round 6

The Vikings are set with their starting offensive tackles with Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill, but they were in the market for a backup swing tackle. Landing Rouse in the sixth round was a nice value selection as Rouse has a lot of experience after being a starter at Stanford and Oklahoma. Rouse may not have starting level talent, but he could be a solid backup swing tackle to help Minnesota if Darrisaw or O’Neill get injured.

2023: Jaren Hall, QB
2022: Akayleb Evans, CB
2021: Kellen Mond, QB
2020: D.J. Wonnum, DE
2019: Alexander Mattison, RB
2018: Jayln Holmes, DE
2017: Bucky Hodges, TE
2016: Kentrell Brothers, LB
2015: Stefon Diggs, WR
2014: Jerick McKinnon, RB
2013: Michael Mauti, LB