Every year, there always seems to be one quarterback who suddenly shoots up near the top of NFL Draft boards.

This year, it’s J.J. McCarthy.

The Michigan quarterback entered the 2023 college football season on the outside looking in among potential top selections, but after a 15-0 national championship season, his stock has risen.

He may be biased, but Jim Harbaugh even said no one should “be surprised” if McCarthy is the first quarterback off the board. His name hasn’t shot up that high. Caleb Williams is still the consensus No. 1 overall pick.

But there has been lots of talk teams could trade up to the fourth slot to select McCarthy after Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye. Or the Washington Commanders could select McCarthy at No. 2.

At the very least, it’s practically a foregone conclusion he will be a first-round selection next week, barring a Will Levis-esque fall. But Kurt Warner does have a concern.

The Hall of Famer says there are “definitely a bunch of things to like” about McCarthy, including “the technique by which he plays” and that he went 28-1 in his career.

“But if I’m drafting someone in the top five, I want to know that I can trust him to win games with his right arm,” Warner said on ESPN’s “Get Up” Friday. 

“We never saw the pressure on him to have to make throw after throw after throw, week after week to carry his football team. You will have to do that in the National Football League with the way the league is built, with the talent at the quarterback position. So, that is a huge question for me because we’ve never seen it.”

J.J. McCarthy warms up


Michigan didn’t have to rely on McCarthy for success. Blake Corum ran for 1,245 yards and 27 touchdowns, and the Michigan defense was elite.

In the national championship, McCarthy was 10-for-18 passing for 140 yards and zero touchdowns in the 34-13 victory over Washington. However, in maybe the biggest drive of his career during the Rose Bowl, a College Football Playoff semifinal, he delivered down seven to Alabama with less than five minutes to go.

McCarthy completed a 27-yard pass on 4th and 2, then ran for 16 yards, found Roman Wilson for another 29, then threw a four-yard score to Wilson that sent the game to overtime. Michigan, of course, wound up winning.

J.J. McCarthy plays against Michigan State

In two seasons as Michigan’s full-time starter (29 games), McCarthy completed 68.5% of his passes for 5,710 yards, 44 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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