May 21, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - DECEMBER 02: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines walks on the field after winning the Big Ten Championship against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium on December 02, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

Include Michigan’s standout quarterback, J.J. McCarthy, in the expanding list of potential quarterback solutions for the Denver Broncos. McCarthy recently disclosed his decision to forego a return to the National Champion Wolverines, opting instead to enter the 2024 NFL draft. Although he is about to turn 21 on January 20, McCarthy’s impressive 27-1 starting record over two seasons at Ann Arbor underscores his proficiency in winning pivotal games. Despite his noteworthy accomplishments, McCarthy only secured the 10th spot in Heisman Trophy voting, likely due to his role in Michigan’s run-centric offense.

McCarthy’s skill in ball security is noteworthy, having thrown just nine interceptions throughout the last two seasons. Broncos head coach Sean Payton may find McCarthy appealing for his ability to take charge of an offense and lead a team, especially considering Michigan’s head coach, Jim Harbaugh, faced suspensions during the past season. McCarthy seamlessly navigated through these challenges.

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The young quarterback excelled under intense pressure during the college playoffs, showcasing his field vision and versatile throwing capabilities. However, the Broncos might face a challenge as McCarthy’s diverse skill set could lead to a rise in his draft stock, but concerns exist, such as his lack of touch and feel as a passer, requiring coaching at the professional level.

Despite potential concerns, Harbaugh affirmed McCarthy’s NFL readiness, stating, “I very much think he’s NFL-ready.” While some teams may assign a second-round grade due to developmental needs, interviews with McCarthy could positively impact his draft stock.

If other teams hesitate to invest time in McCarthy’s development initially, the Broncos, holding the 12th overall pick, may benefit. Depending on circumstances, Denver might even consider trading down if uncertainty surrounds McCarthy’s desirability among other teams. The possibility exists that McCarthy could follow a patient development path similar to Jordan Love, particularly if the Broncos view Russell Wilson, if available, as a potential bridge quarterback option to guide McCarthy in his early NFL years. The Broncos remain open to various strategies as they seek to address their quarterback dilemma.

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