Phil Perry

Michigan's J.J. McCarthy making strong case for QB4 at NFL Combine

Could McCarthy go off the draft board within the first 15 picks?

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The football-watching world is primarily focused on three names at the top of this year's draft, all of whom play the game's most important position: USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels and UNC's Drake Maye.

But there's a fourth passer in this year's class who's garnering serious attention this week at the NFL Scouting Combine. League evaluators have been impressed by the way in which Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy has interviewed, and some believe he's the most likely to be the fourth quarterback taken in April.

McCarthy has adequate height and is expected to measure in around 6-foot-3 this week. He is considered thin but tough, and he's viewed by some as a prospect where real projection is required given that he has just over 700 pass attempts to his name in three collegiate seasons. (Daniels, by comparison, has more than twice as many in five seasons.) 

But McCarthy is coming off a national championship run with the Wolverines, and he's athletic enough -- with enough arm strength -- to give scouts something to consider as a potential face-of-the-franchise type. 

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McCarthy is expected to work out and throw this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium -- Williams, Daniels and Maye will not -- and he's presented well in meetings with teams. If he's the fourth quarterback taken, the question is how high will he go? 

The Cardinals have the No. 4 pick and have stated their commitment to quarterback Kyler Murray as their starter moving forward. Would the Falcons (with the No. 8 overall pick), the Commanders (No. 11), the Broncos (No. 12) or the Raiders (No. 13) get antsy enough for a passer that they'd deal up to No. 4 to jump the line for McCarthy's services? 

The expectation here in Indy is that quarterbacks will be taken with the top three picks. It's just not clear yet in what order and by whom. If McCarthy aces his first impression with clubs here this week, he could put himself in position to make it four quarterbacks off the board in the first four.

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