Johnny Manziel believes Sam Darnold could be a problem for J.J. McCarthy

Former NFL QB Johnny Manziel
Former NFL QB Johnny Manziel / Wesley Hitt/AAF/GettyImages

Last week, the Minnesota Vikings made the decision to use the 10th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on former Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy. This came just a few weeks after the Vikings agreed to a one-year contract with former San Francisco 49ers signal-caller Sam Darnold in free agency.

Most have assumed that Minnesota only signed Darnold this offseason to be a bridge quarterback for them for a year or two, and with the team drafting McCarthy last week, these assumptions were essentially confirmed.

Despite the expectation that Darnold is basically just a place-holder until the Vikings feel McCarthy is ready to begin his on-field NFL career, a former first-round pick recently shared why he doesn't think taking the starting job away from Darnold is going to be as easy as some currently believe it will.

Johnny Manziel says Minnesota Vikings QB Sam Darnold "was drafted where he was for a reason"

Johnny Manziel hasn't been in the NFL since the 2015 season, but he's very familiar with multiple members of Minnesota's current coaching staff.

Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell was Manziel's quarterbacks coach in 2015 when the two were both members of the Cleveland Browns, and new Minnesota quarterbacks coach Josh McCown was Manziel's teammate in 2015 with the Browns.

So the former Cleveland signal-caller is well aware of the great situation that McCarthy has found himself in after getting drafted by the Vikings last week. However, Manziel also wants it to be known that people shouldn't be counting out Darnold as Minnesota's starting quarterback next season.

During a recent edition of The Action Network's "Franchise Mode with Johnny Manziel" show that aired before McCarthy was drafted by the Vikings, the former Browns passer had the following to say about Darnold's current situation in Minnesota.

"I truly feel, based off who Sam Darnold is in that room, whoever comes to Minnesota, if they do indeed go with a quarterback [in the draft], is gonna have their hands full with Sam Darnold.

I know that may raise a little bit of red flags and raise a couple heads up off the table, but Sam Darnold can play football. That guy can sling the rock, he was drafted where he was for a reason, and he's been waiting for a situation like this.

So when you look at the Vikings, you have to ask yourself, 'Is [McCarthy] an upgrade over what they have currently in the [quarterback] room?"

These comments were shared during a discussion about whether the Vikings would be a good fit for McCarthy or not. Manziel and former NFL quarterback Kurt Benkert shared reasons for both why McCarthy could fit well in Minnesota and why he might not be a good option for them.

So, Manziel's comments about Darnold were part of the side of the argument that went against the Vikings selecting the former Michigan quarterback in this year's NFL Draft.

The good thing for Minnesota is that it sounds like they are prepared for multiple scenarios at the quarterback position for next season.

If McCarthy is unable to unseat Darnold during training camp as the Week 1 starter, then the Vikings are totally fine with keeping the rookie on the bench to begin the 2024 regular season. If Minnesota's offense is able to play well with Darnold running things, then O'Connell is probably going to be fine with letting McCarthy continue his development from the sideline.

To some, Darnold might seem like an easy obstacle for McCarthy to overcome this summer. But to guys like Manziel and others who share a similar opinion, they know that Darnold still has the potential to surprise some people next season with the Vikings.

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