National Football League
Jim Harbaugh continues to gush over J.J. McCarthy as possible draft suitors emerge
National Football League

Jim Harbaugh continues to gush over J.J. McCarthy as possible draft suitors emerge

Updated Mar. 25, 2024 12:11 p.m. ET

Jim Harbaugh continued his praise of J.J. McCarthy at the NFL's league meetings on Monday, with a division rival hinting they might be in on the Michigan quarterback.

The Los Angeles Chargers head coach doubled down on his take on McCarthy's standing among the quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft, telling reporters he believes his former signal-caller is "the best quarterback in the draft." But Harbaugh's praise of McCarthy didn't stop there as he gushed over his Pro Day workout as well.

"That was the best I've ever seen a quarterback do at a Pro Day," Harbaugh told reporters of McCarthy's workout. "Not only were his feet great, individual drills, but then he started throwing, and every throw was right there. I thought the receivers did a great job, too. They all had a great day. 

"That was the best throwing day I've ever seen."


Harbaugh first proclaimed that McCarthy is the best quarterback prospect in this year's draft class during an interview on "The Herd" in early February, telling Colin Cowherd at the time that he'd climb up draft boards once teams start to meet with him.

As the combine and Michigan's Pro Day have come and gone, Harbaugh believes his prediction is becoming reality. 

"Hearing coaches and GMs come up to me saying, 'Great job with J.J.' Like I predicted. Once they were around him — I was hearing stories about how he is on the board, on the field, the little things, the intangibles. It was absolutely no surprise whatsoever," Harbaugh said. "There was raving. It was great to hear, incredible to hear. I know it's sincere. It was unsolicited. There were numerous, numerous GMs and numerous, numerous head coaches who couldn't say enough good things. 

"And it was [the best I've ever seen a quarterback do at a Pro Day]. You could just see it. Literally, I've never seen a better one."

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Even though the Chargers have the fifth pick in the draft, it seems unlikely that Harbaugh will reunite with McCarthy. The Chargers already have their franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert and gave him a massive extension last offseason. Harbaugh shared he's routinely checked in with the Chargers quarterback, saying "I just like to see how his day is going."

But other possible suitors for McCarthy have emerged. The Minnesota Vikings became a possibility to draft McCarthy after they traded for a second first-round pick earlier in March. Sean Payton also seemed to throw the Denver Broncos' hat in the ring for the Michigan quarterback on Monday, sharing that the team recently met with McCarthy.

"I wasn't at J.J.'s pro day, but we had a private the next day, where we sent him a bunch of information, spent four or five hours with him, and made him throw all over again," Payton told reporters. "I think it's all part of the process. I think it can lead to a more efficient and effective decision."

Similar to the Vikings, the Broncos might have to trade quite a bit to draft McCarthy. Most mock drafts have McCarthy being selected in the top five and the Broncos hold the 12th pick in the draft.

Trading up to possibly nab a franchise quarterback doesn't seem to be much of a concern for Payton, though. He said it's "realistic" that the Broncos could trade up.

"It's good to be Monti [Ossenfort] right now," Payton said, referring to the Arizona Cardinals general manager as they hold the fourth pick in the draft.

While the Broncos had some private time with McCarthy following his Pro Day, the New England Patriots, Washington Commanders and Seattle Seahawks had lengthy meetings with the quarterback the day before his workout, according to Sports Illustrated. McCarthy was reportedly "excellent" in that setting.

Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo, whose team holds the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft, admitted to reporters on Monday that when he began the pre-draft process, he viewed it as a three-man race among the quarterbacks. However, Mayo said he's amended his stance after attending some Pro Days, saying he sees five quarterbacks who could start in the NFL.

Mayo didn't name names. But after the Patriots attended McCarthy's Pro Day last week, he said he's "pretty sure" they'll host him for a top-30 visit. 



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