The 2024 NFL Draft is right around the corner, which means it is NFL mock draft and mock trades season. In his latest mock, ESPN draft guru Matt Miller has both the Minnesota Vikings (to No. 3 with New England Patriots) and Denver Broncos (to No. 4 with Arizona Cardinals) trading up in the first round to grab North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye and Michigan QB JJ McCarthy, respectively. Let’s grade these two hypothetical deals.

Vikings trade up with Patriots for Drake Maye in 2024 NFL Draft

North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) looks to pass as Duke Blue Devils linebacker Tre Freeman (12) defends in the first overtime at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

“The Vikings made an early move to acquire pick No. 23 in the draft from the Texans, and it would allow their front office to aggressively come up the board from No. 11 for a top-three quarterback,” Miller writes. “I have Minnesota sending Nos. 11 and 23, along with a 2025 first-rounder, to New England for this third pick.”

The Vikings desperately need a quarterback. They won’t get one of the top four in this NFL draft at No. 11. And they already traded for extra draft capital to make a move just like this.

To quote Kevin Bacon’s Capt. Jack Ross in A Few Good Men, “These are the facts of the case, and they are undisputed.”

What’s of even bigger concern for the Vikings right now is keeping superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson happy as they try to get a huge contract extension done with him. Making an NFL draft trade for a top QB prospect is one way to do that.

In Drake Maye, the Vikings get a player who looks like an NFL QB getting off the bus. He’s big and athletic and can sling the rock. However, he’s never put up elite numbers or shown consistently high-level winning quarterback play in college. In both these ways, he’s a lot like Will Levis and even Josh Allen.

Getting with arguably the best WR in football and having a solid roster around him like he will in Minnesota, may be just what Maye needs to take the next step. And with the questions around him being more mental than physical, that’s a player worth taking a chance on, because you can’t coach a player up to 6-foot-4, 223 pounds.


Broncos trade up with Cardinals for JJ McCarthy for a huge price

“With quarterbacks going 1-2-3 to start the draft, I could see the Broncos getting on the phone and sending a package to Arizona for the No. 4 pick to get QB4. I think it would take something in the realm of pick No. 12, a 2025 first-rounder and a 2026 first-rounder,” Miller speculates. “The deal is molded like the deal the 49ers made in 2021 to move up for Trey Lance, and yes, it's an expensive trade package.”

This is a ton for the Broncos to give up, but if it lands them their franchise quarterback, no price tag is too high.

So, is JJ McCarthy an NFL franchise QB?

Like Maye, McCarthy seems to have all the skills and physical attributes to succeed at the next level. However, unlike the UNC QB who has shown flashes of NFL abilities on the field, McCarthy’s projections are almost all based on measurables.

The Michigan QB has never thrown more than 37 times in a single game, and in the Wolverines’ biggest games, he threw even less than usual. Against Penn State, Ohio State, and Washington (in the national championship game) last season he had eight, 20, and 18 passing attempts, respectively.

Jim Harbaugh made the business decision that his best way to win was to take the ball out of McCarthy’s hands last season. Some of that has to do with the school’s incredible offensive line. The question is, how much was about the QB?

If Sean Payton loves McCarthy enough to pull the trigger on a massive NFL draft trade like this, then you have to give him a little benefit of the doubt and applaud the effort here to move heaven and earth to get the most important position in football.

But with such a huge boom-or-bust variance of this gamble, you have to give this only a slightly above-average grade.