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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Pros of the Commanders drafting J.J. McCarthy

First and foremost, J.J. McCarthy is a winner. His outstanding record in college is a mere continuation of what he accomplished in high school. If he's under center, any team has stood an excellent chance of winning a football game.

Part of that has to do with talent - both McCarthy’s and that of his teammates. But it goes beyond physical gifts.

Early in his sophomore season, when he was locked in a battle with Cade McNamara for the starting job, Anthony Broome of The Wolverine spoke with players about the two quarterbacks. While none of them had a negative word to say about McNamara, they were positively glowing about McCarthy.

Punter Brad Robbins, who spent six seasons in Ann Arbor, spoke about his leadership and empathy. He said McCarthy inspires his teammates because he can relate to all of them. The defenders who practiced against him every day spoke about his aggressiveness and willingness to make quick decisions when he saw an opening.

Leadership and aggressiveness mean little if you don’t have the physical tools to back them up. McCarthy has an above-average arm. At the NFL Scouting Combine, he hit 61 miles per hour on his best throw. That’s elite velocity for a quarterback. The last testing number that high belonged to Josh Allen.

Of course, velocity isn’t everything, but it’s a nice tool to have.

McCarthy proved he could make almost all the throws required of a quarterback during the 2023 season. He was accurate on short and medium-range passes. The 72 percent completion rate is a testament to that. He rose from 57% in limited duty as a freshman to 65% as a sophomore before hitting his exceptional percentage during the previous campaign.

That is another of the most attractive attributes McCarthy offers. He has steadily improved. And he will not turn 22 years old until his first NFL season has concluded.

He is the youngest elite quarterback prospect in the draft. Only Drake Maye, several months older, is close. The others all have a year or two on them. What that means to scouts is that McCarthy may not have come close to reaching his potential. He will continue to mature physically and with proper coaching, should improve his decision-making as well.

If he had not already shown the ability to compete at an elite level, that youth might be a mark against him. But since he is already at or near the level of the best quarterbacks in the draft, the growth potential is very enticing. McCarthy has a high floor already, and a potentially enormous ceiling.

Those things all matter, but what is most appealing about McCarthy is what an outstanding all-around athlete he is. This is why he is not the second coming of Mac Jones.

McCarthy ran an elite 3-cone time of 6.82 seconds. This drill is all about how well a player can move and maintain speed and balance while changing direction. Elite pass rushers tend to have excellent times. The national championship winner time would be top-level for a linebacker who may be trying to catch him in the pocket.

McCarthy - who has very good straight-line speed - is even better when he has to display agility in the pocket. That gives him the escapability that is so highly valued in today's NFL. He has a level of comfort in the pocket that is required of all great passers.

Finally, when a play breaks down, McCarthy can run. He has the speed and athleticism to elude pass rushers and has the vision to get yards in the open field. He is not the runner that Jayden Daniels is, but he is very effective when needed.