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Joel Klatt discusses why J.J. McCarthy could surprise people as a NFL quarterback

IMG_6598by:Nick Kosko02/19/24

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Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt ranked JJ McCarthy as his No. 5 quarterback in this year’s draft. However, the former Michigan star could surprise a lot of people in the pros.

“McCarthy … I just feel like his ceiling is incredibly high,” Klatt said on his podcast. “He’s got elements and all five tools … If Michael Penix was asked to throw the ball from the pocket in a post-snap, read down the field let’s say 15 to 20 times per game, which he was, JJ was maybe asked to throw the ball, just no play action, just straight drop back and a post-snap read.” 

Klatt went on to explain how the play-action gives an extra element for the defense to think about. McCarthy essentially has to do more on his own.

Granted, play designs are set up to be quick, but McCarthy showed his prowess as a drop back passer.

“But if you’re gonna sit in the pocket, receive a shotgun snap and really read something down the field in a drop back passing sense. That’s something that Michigan didn’t do a lot,” Klatt said. “They didn’t need to. One they had the lead and two, it was outside of their identity. McCarthy only had to do that, I would say on average between three and seven times per game. So that’s not nearly as many times as Michael Penix had to do that. Now he will be required, JJ, to do that more at the NFL level than he was at Michigan. Okay. 

“So that’s why it’s a bit of a projection although, let’s face it, the guy played a ton of football. He’s 27-1 as a starting quarterback. So does this game translate? Yes, of course it translates. He wasn’t running a college offense. He was running Jim Harbaugh’s offense. That is a pro style offense. He was handling protections. He was handling run checks. All of those things are going to translate. And he did so by the way, in an incredibly unselfish manner.” 

Michigan was a run-heavy offense that relied on Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards and a bruising offensive line. But McCarthy made it count every time he threw the football.

“You know, JJ could have thrown for a lot of touchdowns,” Klatt said. “A lot of touchdowns if they would have just gotten down to the endzone, hit a little play action, Roman Wilson, Colston Loveland, all these different guys. They had threats. They had guys on the outside and yet they didn’t. They handed it off. Why? Because that was their identity. And that was their philosophy and JJ didn’t care. That’s unique, and that’s going to be a huge plus for him.” 

With the way the rankings are shaking out, perhaps McCarthy goes much later in the first round and goes to a team that has better talent around the man under center. 

“He’s also going to have the advantage of not getting taken by a team that is a heavy need team because of the depth of this quarterback draft,” Klatt said. “He’s not going to get selected in the top three picks, I don’t think at least … Which means he’s going to fall to some team or organization that is much more sound and has a much better roster that’s going to work to his benefit. Good chance he lands with a team that is not terrible. That is not bad. And that makes for a better situation for a young quarterback.”