Pros and cons of the Commanders drafting J.J. McCarthy at No. 2

What are the pros and cons surrounding the Washington Commanders potentially drafting J.J. McCarthy at No. 2 overall?
J.J. McCarthy
J.J. McCarthy / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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Is there any chance that Michigan’s national championship quarterback J.J. McCarthy will be wearing a Washington Commanders uniform next season? There was a brief buzz about how much Adam Peters liked the quarterback several weeks ago, fueling speculation that the Michigan star might vault over more prominent names and become the No. 2 pick.

Those reports have died off and it seems unlikely that McCarthy goes No. 2 - either to Washington or any team the Commanders might swing a deal with. But he is still in the picture, especially with a trade-back.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at Jonathan James McCarthy. Specifically, the pros and cons of Washington making him the second player off the board.

Commanders could draft J.J. McCarthy at No. 2

McCarthy has been the Wolverines starting quarterback since early in his sophomore season when he beat out Cade McNamara for the job. On paper, his performance has been truly outstanding. Playing against elite Big Ten competition, he won 27 out of the 28 games he started.

Statistically, he improved in each of his seasons, culminating in an exceptional 2023 which saw him complete more than 72 percent of his throws, at an average of nine yards-per-pass, and toss 22 touchdowns against just four interceptions. Apart from the touchdown total, those are all elite numbers.

Despite this and the resulting national championship, when the college season ended, McCarthy was typically grouped into the second tier of prospects along with Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix. Most analysts had them rated as Day 2 picks, while the top three - Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, and Jayden Daniels - were firmly entrenched at the top.

In the weeks after the season ended, McCarthy began creeping up on analysts lists and mock draft boards alike. That is not unusual. It seems that every year, at least one quarterback begins to climb once the campaign concludes. In 2018, Baker Mayfield vaulted over players like Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen, who had been thought of as top-pick contenders during the college season. In 2021, Alabama’s Mac Jones went No. 15 overall.

With quarterbacks, grade inflation is a very real thing.

The task that general managers have in front of them is to figure out whether McCarthy is the next Jones - a slightly above-average player who benefitted in college from having an elite roster around him - or someone more along the lines of Alex Smith, a very talented quarterback whose name has come up a lot when looking for comparisons.

To cross sports metaphors - is Jim Harbaugh the Dean Smith to J.J. McCarthy’s Michael Jordan?

Smith, the old joke goes, was the only person who could hold Jordan under 20 points per game. Did Harbaugh’s conservative offensive strategy allow McCarthy to shine or did it hinder his ability to show what he could do? Let’s take a deeper look at the positives and negatives surrounding the signal caller.