The Minnesota Vikings’ draft selection of former Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy has become one of the must-watch stories of the NFL offseason and fall camp.

McCarthy lost just one game during his three seasons in Ann Arbor and helped lead the Wolverines to College Football’s 2023-2024 National Championship, the program’s first since they split a title with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in 1997.

McCarthy now has a QB battle on his hands with former USC Trojans star and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Sam Darnold. According to a Thursday afternoon report from Patrick Andres of Sports Illustrated, McCarthy is ‘squarely behind’ Darnold in the Vikings’ quarterback race so far during OTAs (Organized Team Activities).

“Here’s what we can say about McCarthy so far,” reporter Kevin Seifert of ESPN wrote on Wednesday to less fanfare than the story is currently receiving. “After two days of minicamp, and with one final week of OTAs remaining, he’s squarely behind veteran Sam Darnold on the depth chart.”

Darnold is hardly a world-beater having thrown for under 300 yards last season with the San Francisco 49ers and under 1,200 yards the previous season with the Carolina Panthers, but he is a former 2018 top three NFL Draft Pick who was foolishly selected four picks ahead of Josh Allen, now an NFL mega-star with New York state’s Buffalo Bills.

McCarthy threw for 22 touchdowns against 4 interceptions last season for Coach Jim Harbaugh and then-offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore’s Michigan Wolverines.

He has been criticized as a ‘game manager’ for performances against Ohio State, Penn State, and Washington that weren’t especially noteworthy on the stat sheet but ended in wins as every one of McCarthy’s career games did except for one, the December 2022 Fiesta Bowl against Coach Sonny Dykes and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.

McCarthy is still just 21 years old and almost certainly has his best football days ahead of him, but Darnold is proving to be intense competition for the La Grange Park, Illinois native so far on the young season.

This race will be an exciting one to watch this offseason and during fall training camp with Darnold the favorite to win the job and McCarthy likely to overtake him for at least some playing time at some point during the Vikings’ 2024-2025 NFL season under Coach Kevin McConnell and offensive coordinator Wes Phillips.