2024 NFL Draft: Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy, RB Blake Corum declare after leading team to national title


Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy and running back Blake Corum are declaring for the 2024 NFL Draft after helping the Wolverines win their first national championship since 1997. McCarthy spent three seasons with the program and posted a 27-1 record as the starter after earning the job early in the 2022 campaign. 

Corum leaves as one of the program’s most decorated running backs, setting school marks with 58 career rushing touchdowns and 27 from this past season. He will certainly be among the program’s most celebrated players, too. A memorable run through this season’s College Football Playoff served as the dream ending to a incredible comeback from Corum’s left knee injury in late 2022. 

When Michigan lost to TCU in a College Football Playoff semifinal to conclude the 2022 season, McCarthy vowed “we’ll be back.” It turned out to be his only loss as a starter, and he made good on the vow by steadily guiding the Michigan offense through a 2023 season marked by significant off-field distraction. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 140 yards in Michigan’s 34-13 CFP National Championship win over Washington this month.

McCarthy entered Michigan as a highly touted prospect in the Class of 2021 and apprenticed behind Cade McNamara as a freshman. He showed promise while appearing in 11 games as the Wolverines won the Big Ten Championship before falling to eventual national champion Georgia in a CFP semifinal.

McNamara started the opener of the 2022 season before McCarthy took over in Week 2. He never relinquished the job, earning All-Big Ten honors in each of his seasons as the starter while using an accurate right arm and sound decision-making to guide the Wolverines on a historic two-year run.

McCarthy completed 64.6% of his passes for 2,719 yards with 22 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2022. In 2023, he completed 72.3% of his passes for 2,991 yards with 22 touchdowns and just four interceptions to solidify his standing as a legitimate NFL Draft prospect.

Draft stock for McCarthy, Corum

McCarthy is ranked the No. 5 quarterback and No. 22 overall prospect in CBS Sports’ 2024 NFL Draft Prospect Rankings. It’s all but certain he won’t be taken before more highly touted quarterbacks Drake Maye or Caleb Williams, if Williams declares for the draft before Monday’s deadline for underclassmen to enter. But there’s a chance he could be a first-round pick.

“There is a lot to like about McCarthy’s game, and I have championed his potential all season long, but he has yet to put it all together,” CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Edwards wrote before the national championship game. “He has the ability to become a top-10 selection in the NFL Draft down the road, but if he were to enter the draft now, then he is among that second tier of quarterbacks that includes (Jayden) Daniels, (Michael) Penix and, perhaps, (Bo) Nix. Similar to Will Levis a year ago, if he is the last quarterback taken among that tier, it could be the difference in millions of dollars in earnings. However, it takes one team to fall in love with a prospect, and that gives him a chance to go middle-to-late first round.”

Corum projects as a more surefire Day 3 selection, coming in as the No. 10 running back. While age, injury and tread all likely play into those projections, Corum has shown at the highest levels that he can be the player to step up to the moment. 

Impact on Michigan

Look for Michigan to mine the transfer market to find McCarthy’s replacement. While most of the top quarterback transfers of the cycle have committed, the opening that McCarthy is leaving will be attractive to other quarterbacks considering transferring. A new window to enter the portal begins in the spring, at which time Michigan could land its next quarterback.

Michigan’s primary backup in 2023, Jack Tuttle, is out of eligibility after six years of college football at three different schools. The Wolverines signed four-star freshman Jadyn Davis in the Class of 2024. But the prospect of starting a true freshman is not ideal. Jayden Denegal also just concluded his sophomore season with the Wolverines after ranking as a three-star prospect in the Class of 2022. He completed 4 of 5 passes for 50 yards with a touchdown in reserve duty this season.

There’s more experience likely returning at running back. Donovan Edwards has had some setbacks, but as he just showed in the national championship, can be a home-run threat with 104 yards and two touchdowns on just six touches. Alex Orji just wrapped up his sophomore season with the program after ranking as a three-star prospect in the Class of 2022. Michigan used Orji in a run-oriented package in 2023 — including in the national title game — and he accumulated 86 yards rushing on 15 carries for the season. He has not attempted a pass in college football.





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