Why J.J. McCarthy is the perfect fit for the Denver Broncos

Why is quarterback prospect J.J. McCarthy the perfect draft fit for the Broncos?

Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

The Denver Broncos are just weeks and days away from the new league year where they will be parting ways with quarterback Russell Wilson after just two seasons. Despite a disappointing tenure and troubling contract on the books, the Broncos will still take the bullet and look forward to the next pool of intriguing quarterbacks to choose from. Of those quarterbacks available via trade, free agency, and the draft, NFL draft prospect J.J. McCarthy is a player who has recently caught lots of steam heading into the combine.

Denver currently obtains the 12th overall pick in the NFL Draft putting them in a tricky spot in terms of how they can select their preferred quarterback. Considering the list of available free agents and trade options, the Broncos may very well find themselves trading up in the draft for their guy, if need be. The 21-year-old J.J. McCarthy seems to be the hottest prospect underneath the likes of Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye.

McCarthy is coming fresh off a national championship victory at the University of Michigan and put together a very impressive junior season worth of tape. While his stats do seem misleading, it all depends on how you interpret them. McCarthy threw for just 2,991 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2023. Michigan's run game and defense were as elite as it gets in college football and because of that, critics have labeled McCarthy as a product of the system rather a individually gifted athlete.

Both statements can be true, however, the criticism surrounding McCarthy's game is simply unfair. His yards per attempt through three seasons in college were an average 8.7 yards compared to Caleb Williams' 9.2 yards per attempt. Williams had 386 more passing attempts. McCarthy could have utilized more downfield targets but he did not need to given the fact that he destroyed the middle of the field in Michigan's offense.

It is commonly known Broncos head coach Sean Payton loves utilizing the intermediate area of the field in the passing game, as we witnessed many times in New Orleans with legendary quarterback Drew Brees. But wait, it gets better.

By a decent margin, McCarthy is the best quarterback in this year's class regarding classic timing routes -- another area that has been a main component of Sean Payton's passing approach for many years. Payton's version of the West Coast offense relies a ton on rhythm and timing routes, exactly where McCarthy excelled in Michigan's offense. In addition to these two perfect schematic fits, McCarthy's athleticism paired with his ability to process at a quick pace is almost a match made in heaven with Denver.

For crying out loud the kid just turned 21 years old in January of 2024. The fact his accuracy was off the charts and almost never relied on contested catch situations shows what he is capable of at the next level. Of course, there is a lot of raw film and a lack of passing attempts to evaluate, but the sky is the limit from the reps we have seen.

Excluding screens, McCarthy accounted for the most first-half passing attempts of any quarterback in his draft class (199) in 2023. Michigan had a 21+ point lead in 11 of their 15 games and as a result, McCarthy did not play in seven of those fourth quarters. Try picturing what his production could have looked like if he had remained in those games. Essentially every time the football was put in his hands, McCarthy made a play almost every single time for his team.

He doesn't have the crazy arm talent that we see in a Caleb Williams or Drake Maye, however, he rarely makes mistakes and arguably made some of the most accurate throws out of any quarterback in this draft class. Sean Payton is going to love this kid if he ends up in Denver come April. His potential is through the roof.

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