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Booger McFarland offers strong take on the JJ McCarthy hype

JJ McCarthy in pads

Jan 6, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) looks on during a practice session before the College Football Playoff national championship game against the Washington Huskies at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

JJ McCarthy has had more buzz surrounding him than any other player leading up to the 2024 NFL Draft, but one longtime ESPN analyst believes the hype has gotten out of control.

During Tuesday morning’s edition of “Get Up,” Booger McFarland was asked what his reaction would be if McCarthy is selected ahead of Drake Maye in the first round of the draft. McFarland said he would be “shocked” and offered a strong opinion on the former Michigan star.

“I’ll be shocked. There’s no way you can convince me that JJ McCarthy is the third-best player in this draft,” McFarland said. “I don’t think he’s the fourth-best player in this draft and we’re talking about drafting this quarterback as high as No. 4? Can we honestly say he’s the fourth-best player in this draft?

“I know quarterbacks are gonna go higher because of the supply and demand. I get all that. … But just from a pure talent traits standpoint, Drake Maye is a better quarterback than JJ McCarthy. I’ve seen him do it at a higher level at North Carolina than JJ McCarthy.”

It was not that long ago that McCarthy was viewed as a potential late-first round pick. His stock has soared over the past few months, with Michigan’s win over Washington in the national championship game giving McCarthy a huge boost in the all-important “intangibles” department. It has also helped that former Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, who is now the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, has been over the top with his praise of McCarthy.

The biggest knock against Maye is that he did not face an elite level of competition in the ACC. While McCarthy’s stats do not jump off the page, he played in a tough Big Ten conference and made huge throws in the biggest moments. Maye is viewed as being more physically gifted, and McFarland obviously feels that makes the former UNC star worthy of the higher pick.

Caleb Williams is a lock to go No. 1 overall to the Chicago Bears. The growing sense is that the Washington Commanders will take Jayden Daniels at No. 2, which would leave the New England Patriots to choose between Maye and McCarthy. One longtime Pats reporter recently gave his prediction for which QB the team will take.

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