Jim Harbaugh Throws Gasoline On Blazing JJ McCarthy Hype, Says QB’s Pro Day Was “Best I’ve Ever Seen”

JJ McCarthy

Jim Harbaugh watched up close and personal as his quarterback JJ McCarthy went 27-1 as a starter during his tenure at Michigan and led the Wolverines to a national championship this past season.

So it wasn’t the biggest surprise that Harbaugh publicly declared McCarthy as the best QB in the 2024 NFL Draft, despite the presence of a seemingly can’t-miss No. 1 overall pick in USC QB Caleb Williams.

At the annual NFL owners meetings on Monday, you might say Harbaugh doubled, tripled and quadrupled down on that take in singing praises about McCarthy’s recent pro day and how much deserved buzz he’s generating amid the pre-draft process.

“The workout JJ had…I’ve been to a lot of pro day workouts and watched a lot of quarterbacks throw. That was the best I’ve ever seen quarterback. Not only were his feet great in the individual drills, but then he started throwing. And it was like, every throw. Right there. I thought our receivers did a great job too. They all had a great day, but that was the best throwing day I’ve ever seen. Then coaches and GMs come up to me and say, ‘Great job with JJ.’

“Like I predicted, once they were around him, I was hearing the stories about how he is on the board. How he is on the field. The little things. The intangibles. It was absolutely no surprise whatsoever. There was raving. It was great to hear, incredible. I know it was sincere. It was unsolicited. Numerous, numerous GMs, numerous head coaches couldn’t say enough good things. You could just see it, right? His pro day. I’ve never seen a better one.”

ICYMI, here are some highlights from McCarthy’s impressive throwing session, along with ringing endorsements from teammates.

This is classic silly/smoke screen season, where teams are deliberately leaking out information to the media as a means of throwing rivals off the scent of what they’re scheming up for draft day. Having said that, the hype around McCarthy seems legit. I’ll believe it when I see it that he’s a better NFL quarterback than Caleb Williams. I do understand why the NFL is becoming more bullish about McCarthy’s upside as a pro, though.

One of the teams in dire need of a QB is the Denver Broncos. They ate $85 million in dead money so they could move off Russell Wilson. Despite having the 12th overall pick, Broncos coach Sean Payton made it known on Monday that they’re exploring a way to move up.

Here’s the thing about that: Even if Denver can get all the way to the fourth overall pick held by Arizona, the widespread assumption is that QBs will be taken with the first three picks. Williams is basically a mortal lock to go first to the Bears. Then, it’s either North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU Heisman winner Jayden Daniels to the Commanders and Patriots with the next two picks.

Harbaugh’s Chargers have the fifth pick and already have a stud QB in Justin Herbert. In a sense, they could have the de facto first pick in the draft. For a roster that has multiple holes in part due to salary cap constrictions, they’re in prime position to trade back if they don’t want to make a selection at No. 5.

So while some could accuse Harbaugh of gassing up McCarthy just to improve the chances of the Bolts having their pick of the litter, the transparency of an arch-rival coach in Payton says a lot. So does the Minnesota Vikings’ decision to acquire an extra first-round pick (they now have Nos. 11 and 23 overall) well in advance of the April 25 draft. Minnesota needs a QB badly, too, in the wake of Kirk Cousins’ exit to Atlanta.

It’s wild to me that the Broncos and Vikings are being so open about their ambitions to sacrifice myriad future assets and acquire the fourth quarterback of this 2024 class. No smoke screen or deception detected there. If that doesn’t tell you that the JJ McCarthy hype is deserved and very real, I don’t know what would. April 25 can’t get here soon enough. Check out my latest mock draft, where the Vikings actually move up all the way to No. 3 with New England to secure their QB of the future.

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock