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'I Don't Understand It': Nick Wright on J.J. McCarthy Being Drafted Top 5

Colin Cowherd: “The JJ McCarthy thing is starting to feel like Zach Wilson. It’s ‘WHAT A THROW AT THE PRO DAY!’ and ‘HARBAUGH LIKES HIM!’... And it’s like ‘timeout’, he had 22 touchdown passes in 15 games with great protection, playing with leads, and the best coach... It feels very ‘Alabama quarterback’ where I’m not doubting he’s a pro, but it was not an NFL experience. ALWAYS the best coach, ALWAYS the lead, ALWAYS a run game, ALWAYS protection. Michigan hasn’t played any games since the season ended – how did he go from mid-first to potentially the second pick??” 

Nick Wright: “The Zach Wilson stuff I didn’t understand but I mostly stayed out of because I don’t watch as much college football as you do, Colin, and I didn’t watch a lot of BYU. I watched THIS guy [JJ McCarthy] every weekend because he was on the best team. At no point was I watching Michigan and was like ‘OH, MAN, AND THEY’VE GOT A TOP 5 PICK AT QUARTERBACK?!’... The game that Harbaugh’s replacement had to coach against Penn State where he’s like ‘I can’t screw this up for Jim! I have to rely on what I know I can rely on!, they let the kid throw eight times and gave him the Jimmy G. in the NFC Championship treatment. They’re like ‘THROW THE BALL EIGHT TIMES AND DON’T SCREW IT UP!’, which to me was telling.
I’m not saying he can’t be a pro, but never in my adult life watching college football has there been a quarterback that I watched more that I was more confident on what their draft evaluation, which is a Day 2 pick, compared to what it is now with no games taking place. I don’t understand it. I know some folks will go ‘WELL, WHEN HARBAUGH HAD ANDREW LUCK HE RAN THE BALL!’... Harbaugh let Luck throw the ball 30 times a game on that Stanford team. JJ threw the ball 21 times a game.
I just don’t understand it, but it sure seems like if he gets past the top 3 that there is going to be a team, be it Minnesota, or the Giants, or the Broncos that are dying to trade him to get him from Harbaugh at number five with that fifth pick the Chargers have, so I guess he’s going to be a top 5 pick, I just don’t understand it.” 

Watch Nick Wright of FS1’s ‘First Things First’ join Colin Cowherd to discuss next month’s 2024 NFL Draft, and why he doesn’t understand how former Michigan Wolverines quarterback JJ McCarthy is mysteriously vaulting up draft boards despite his statistics paling in comparison to other prized QBs of the class Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, Jaylen Daniels, Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr., Spencer Rattler, Michael Pratt, and Joe Milton. 

McCarthy’s Wolverines went 15-0 last season and captured their first National Championship since 1997, but McCarthy ranked just 35th in the NCAA in passing yards, and 37th in passing touchdowns. 

In perhaps Michigan’s biggest win of the regular season, a road game at no. 10 Penn State in which head coach Jim Harbaugh was suspended for, McCarthy attempted just 8 passes, and Michigan’s offense ran the ball 32 consecutive times at one point on a day where the weather was mild and McCarthy was perfectly healthy. 

Check out the segment above as Wright compares McCarthy to former NFL Combine phenom-turned bust Zach Wilson, and details how befuddling it is to see McCarthy lauded so much by NFL scouts despite never putting impressive tape together in college.

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