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J.J. McCarthy Is A False Flag, And Other Notes From A Burgeoning Draft Pervert

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 29: J.J. McCarthy of Michigan poses for portraits at the Indiana Convention Center on February 29, 2024 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images)
Todd Rosenberg/Getty Images

For the bulk of my lifetime, I have existed in a comfortable middle ground with regards to the NFL Draft. I thought about the draft. I read the occasional mock draft. I sometimes read little scouting capsules leading up to the draft. I chased rumors around while reminding everyone (and myself) that they meant nothing. I had prospects I loved (Johnny Manziel) and ones I didn’t (Josh Allen). I casually tracked who was rising up draft boards and who wasn’t. And then I watched the first round of draft with great excitement before ennui set in and I started watching other shit in between picks. I wasn’t a certified draftnik—one of those freakshows who issues their own scouting reports, aspiring to be Mel Kiper III. I also wasn’t one of the dipshit snobs who think that caring about the draft at all is a silly thing. I had just the right amount of emotional investment, perhaps because my team was almost always picking in the middle of the order.

Circumstances have changed.

My team needs a long-term quarterback, as do the Bears, Commanders, Patriots, Giants, Broncos, Raiders, Saints, Seahawks, Steelers, and, of course, the Jets. And hey, wouldn’t you know it? This is the best quarterback class in ages. Oh, and the receiver depth of this draft is also bananas. It’s also loaded up top at Edge, at OT, and maybe even at corner if you squint. I know because I’ve been studying this draft class and thinking about it a great deal.

In fact, it’s all I think about. I get up in the morning, DRAFT. I take a break from work, DRAFT. I finish my work, DRAFT. I talk to my kids about their day, but all my brain is saying throughout the conversation is DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT DRAFT. I lie down to go to sleep and I am the owner of my team, post-DRAFT, telling the press how over the moon I am that we traded up with the Pats to snatch one of the top prizes.

It’s mid-March, mind you. The draft is six goddamn weeks away. I should be thinking about, and doing, other things. There are two NCAA tournaments starting. The NBA regular season is beginning to matter. I have a fourth novel to write. Oh, and my wife and I have to prepare ourselves, both logistically and emotionally, for our daughter’s graduation and subsequent departure for college.

And yet, the draft has me. I have become what I once playfully mocked. I refresh Twitter every six seconds to see if my team has swung another trade up. I have a Google News search for my team bookmarked on my phone which I check constantly, even though Google doesn’t work anymore. Then I search my team’s name plus “Maye” or “Daniels” or, with some trepidation, “McCarthy” on Twitter, even though Twitter doesn’t work anymore. Then I read the same tweets over and over again because nothing new has happened. If some random pud proudly declares that X player is going to X team, I believe 49 percent of what they’re saying.

At night, I watch full college football games from last season. I binge-watch Kurt Warner’s Studyball breakdowns of the QB class. I even sprung for the $5 a month to subscribe to J.T. O’Sullivan’s Patreon, because he put his film studies for this draft class behind his paywall, posting them to unlisted URLs on Rumble. Rumble! The draft has made me patronize Rumble! [looks in the mirror] WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME!

Worst of all, the draft has made me fully invested in silly season. You know how worthless the bulk of pre-draft news is. No team has any incentive to tip their cap over the next few weeks. This is true even when their needs are glaring (Denver) or when they’re picking No. 1 overall and can’t be stopped from drafting whomever they please (Chicago). Jack Dall’s best Hollywood rule, “If someone asks you to keep a secret, their secret is a lie,” applies to the NFL for three straight months. Every team is full of shit, and every reporter they leak to is even more full of it. What’s more, nobody knows how any of these players will turn out. Did that stop me from clicking over to a site called Sportskeeda and inhale a report that the Patriots don’t care for Drake Maye? Nope. Did it stop me from believing that report? Nope. Did it stop me from forming my own hierarchy of players, some of whom I must have, and others I want jailed? Nope. Do I trust scouting reports, especially if they tell me what I wanna hear? Yes. Am I a fucking idiot? Most certainly…


But I am enjoying this ignorance-riddled mania more than I have enjoyed any NFL offseason, ever. A friend of mine once told me that, outside of winning a Super Bowl, the lead-up to your team drafting a new QB from the luxury rack is the best time to be a fan. He was right. I am having a BALL. I’ve also learned a few things, most of which will prove to be hideously untrue. But for now, they’re as factual to me as the grass growing outside my office window. Here now are my findings from my time as a nascent draftnik.

• Caleb Williams is the best QB prospect in the universe and the only way that the Bears will fuck him up is if he gets hurt. Also, their head coach is a boob, but I’ve watched great QBs flourish under such dingbats before. I fear that the Bears have their shit together.

• Drake Maye is legit. When he was paired with Williams as the top QB in the draft before the 2023 college football season even began, I made a wanking motion so furious that my dick opened one eye. I’ve seen more than my fair share of tall white stiffs go high in the draft, and I know how the story ends. The fact that Maye played for North Carolina, and has the world’s most lacrosse name, only made the TRUBISKY II sign in my head blink brighter.

Then I put on the tape and realized that I was looking at the next Josh Allen (every large QB prospect is the next Josh Allen). Maye can throw the ball out of the stadium, he can operate a two-minute offense with command, he can run, and he get himself out of a jam. That’s an NFL quarterback, folks. I am ready to trade away one of my children for this man. And SportsKars4Kids said that the Pats don’t even want him! In fact, I now believe that Maye will be mine. It’s destiny. You will take the godfather offer, Bobby Kraft. You cheap old frog fuck.

(BTW my opinion on Maye is based solely on watching a single game played against Duke, plus a few YouTube highlights. I highly recommend watching that game, especially if you don’t know the outcome. It was fun as shit. I may or may not have popped a gummy before watching.)

• Jayden Daniels concerns me. Yes, he ran for over 1,100 yards on 135 carries a season ago, and he threw 40 TDs and completed over 72 percent of his passes. The man is greased lightning. But he’s also skinny. I need him to load up on the Todd Steussie HGH before I’m ready to buy in. Also, I watched Daniels play Florida State—which, unlike Duke, was an actual football team—and didn’t like how quickly he bailed when rushers like Jared Verse were hot on his ass. This man gets sacked a lot. Ask Justin Fields what happens to guys who love taking sacks.

(SCOUTING NOTE: I did not pop a gummy before watching the Daniels game.)

• But apparently the Commanders really like Daniels, which means Maye could fall to third. I now have to spend the next month and a half waiting to see if this is actually true, my fate resting on Washington passing on the QB I want and New England being too dumb to stay right where they are. But I successfully manifested Kirk Cousins to Atlanta, and I’ll do likewise for this. Don’t fuck with my chi.

• I loved watching Michael Penix last season. He never gets sacked and can throw the ball, with deadly accuracy, to the next county over. But every mock draft has him pegged as a low first-rounder, if not worse. This is because Penix has two ACL tears to his name and more tread on his tires than a 50-year-old porn actor. He also has issues throwing the ball between the numbers. So I still love him, but am now wary.

• I don’t like Bo Nix. I saw him play at Auburn and he was worthless. Nothing he did at Oregon, where he “drastically improved” and “led FBS in passing touchdowns” will change my mind about that. I have not watched any scouting tape of him. Nix and Penix are the consolation prizes of this draft. They are the Samsung Galaxy phone your mom got you for Christmas when you specifically asked for an iPhone. I guess I’d be happy with Bo Nix as my savior-in-waiting, but I’d also be let down.

• J.J. McCarthy is a false flag. Every modern draft has a main character: one player every team uses to mislead every other team. Two years ago, that player was Malik Willis, who was pegged to go as high as No. 2. Last year it was Will Levis, who got talked up as the potential No. 1 overall. Both men got snubbed like Bill Maher trying to get into an Oscars afterparty.

Now comes McCarthy, who threw a grand total of six passes in two years at Michigan and started off mock draft season down in the –nix tier of passers. But whoa hey, would you look at that? After flashing his pearly whites at the combine and posting an incredible time in the three-cone drill (I don’t really know what this drill entails), he’s the next Tom Brady. Ask any agenda-free team executive speaking under the cover of anonymity!

J.J. McCarthy can throw a fastball, and he can scoot. He also lost a grand total of one game in two years as a starter at Michigan. A good comp for him might be Donovan McNabb … or Bryce Young. No one knows. All I know that O’Sullivan hates him, and that, “LOL you guys are drafting J.J. McCarthy” has become a reliable taunt between fans of desperate teams. I just got out of six years in prison with the most widely ridiculed QB in football, so I am too fragile for another helping of that. Especially if it costs a shitload of firsts just to draft the new guy. I want one of the marquee names at that price. I don’t want the second coming of A.J. McCarron. So here are my QB rankings right now:

  1. Williams
  2. Maye
  3. Daniels
  4. Penix
  5. McCarthy
  6. Nix

Because for all of the legwork and number-crunching that goes into the draft, I, the fan, still secretly rely on the eye test more than anything else. These eyes have deceived me on many occasions (see: Manziel), but I have improved on knowing what to look for. I can speak the language now. I can see arm talent. I can tell which QBs can layer the ball. I watch their feet. I take mental notes anytime they cleanly reset after maneuvering in the pocket. And I know if a guy is built to take a beating. I can see all of that crystal clearly … until the end of April. Then the actual draft happens and my field of vision changes all over again. This is my brain on the draft. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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