Vikings: J.J. McCarthy, Drake Maye NFL Draft steam

Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) gives a thumbs up to the sideline during the CFP National Championship game Michigan Wolverines and Washington Huskies on January 8, 2024, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.  ((Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images))

The NFL Draft is less than 72 hours away, and as you might expect, there’s plenty of steam across the league with what could happen in the first round Thursday night.

The Minnesota Vikings are in the thick of that steam, largely because they have two first-round picks at Nos. 11 and 23. The popular thought is that they’ll package those two picks, and add future assets, to move up in the NFL Draft to get their franchise quarterback.

The latest steam appears to zeroing in on Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy and North Carolina’s Drake Maye. It started when New England Patriots GM Eliot Wolf, which has the No. 3 pick, said Monday they are open for business to potentially trade down.

McCarthy, who just won a national championship at Michigan, appeared Monday on Adam Schefter’s podcast. He was asked about what it might be like for him to end up at Minnesota with Kevin O’Connell.

"It would be the world… Coach O’Connell, he’s a guy that I’d run through a brick wall for. Everything he wants to do with a football team is something I think want to be a part of."

Reports emerged Monday that the Vikings have been in contact with the Patriots for the No. 3 overall pick. The consensus is that Caleb Williams will go No. 1 overall to the Chicago Bears, and Jayden Daniels will go No. 2 overall to the Washington Commanders. If Minnesota can put a package together to get to No. 3, their preference would be to grab Maye.

The connection there is that quarterbacks coach Josh McCown was Maye’s high school coach.

"This is an offense that doesn’t need a spectacular playmaking quarterback," Colin Cowherd said Monday on his show, "The Herd." "If Drake Maye goes to Minnesota, he’s going to succeed."

Cowherd noted Maye would be aided by having Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison as receiving weapons, Aaron Jones in the backfield, T.J. Hockenson at tight end and one of the NFL's better left tackles in Christian Darrisaw.

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said at his pre-draft news conference the Vikings are "in love with multiple guys" in the quarterback draft. But what will it cost to move up, and will he do it? Is three first round picks too high a price? 

We’ll find out Thursday night.