2024 NFL mock draft by USA TODAY

The 2024 NFL Draft is less than a month away as fans and media alike heat up debate about which team should draft specific players. The Chicago Bears, owners of the No. 1 overall pick, seem primed to select quarterback Caleb Williams, even with the recent social media reaction to video of Williams with painted nails and a pink phone.

But he won’t be the first signal-caller hearing his name said on the draft broadcast early. The latest mock drafts from USA Today’s experts Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz and Nate Davis agree that Williams will be the first of a record-tying number of quarterbacks selected in the first dozen picks. The biggest intrigue surrounds one team in particular: the Minnesota Vikings.

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The Vikings announced their intentions in trading two second-round picks to the Houston Texans for the No. 23 overall pick. That gives Minnesota No. 11 and No. 23 in the first round of April’s draft. Free agent signing Sam Darnold is the current starter at quarterback but he’s there on a one-year deal. All signs point to Minnesota looking to trade up for an upgrade following Kirk Cousin’s departure to Atlanta.

Both mock drafts predict the Vikings will trade up to the top four picks of the first round to select a quarterback. The method is similar but the result is slightly different. Middlehurst-Schwartz predicts the Vikings will trade up to No. 4 and select Michigan‘s J.J. McCarthy; Davis thinks they’ll be more aggressive and trade up to No.3 and select North Carolina‘s Drake Maye.

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Either option makes sense. In the first scenario, the Arizona Cardinals already have their guy at quarterback (Kyler Murray) so they won’t need one of the top prospects. Most mock drafts have them taking the top non-quarterback of the draft – often Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. – but that could change. The first three quarterbacks are off the board by No. 4 in this scenario, leaving McCarthy for the Vikings.

McCarthy needs to develop more but has shown productive flashes as a starter with Michigan. He drives the ball consistently, isn’t afraid of throwing over the middle, and has the athleticism to execute throws on sprint-outs or bootlegs that the Kyle Shanahan-tree coaches, including the Vikings’ Kevin O’Connell, use often.

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