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Lunchbreak: J.J. McCarthy & Khyree Jackson Rank in Top 5 'Rookie-Team Fits' by CBS Sports 

When it comes to the NFL Draft, talent isn't the only thing to consider when evaluating how teams did with their selections.

As CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso points out, it's also important to consider fit of the players with the team – and therefore systems – that drafted them. Trapasso recently ranked the 10 best “rookie-team fits," and a pair of new Vikings landed in this top five spots.

Vikings QB J.J. McCarthy ranked No. 2 on the list.

Trapasso said McCarthy "proved to be plenty capable of either creating with his legs when the original play is coverage or, simply, throwing with timing, accuracy and velocity while on the run" during 38 starts at Michigan.

Trapasso wrote:

And that functional mobility is key in an offense from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. [Vikings Head Coach] Kevin O'Connell will likely feel far more comfortable with the play-action bootleg at the core of his scheme. McCarthy typically understands where to go with the football and can glide through his reads, two other elements key to most aerial attacks but especially critical in O'Connell's very meticulously timed offense.


McCarthy landed in the best environment of any first-round quarterback.

The Vikings drafted McCarthy 10th overall. Their third selection of the draft, Oregon cornerback Khyree Jackson, was tabbed in the fourth round. Trapasso ranked Jackson fifth overall for rookie-team fits.

Jackson gave me Xavien Howard vibes on film. Long, athletic, ultra-physical, at times tremendously suffocating at the line and at the catch point, and other times lost in coverage.

But you know who got the most out of Howard in the NFL? Vikings current [Defensive Coordinator] Brian Flores. In 2020, under Flores' tutelage, Howard led the NFL with 10 interceptions. Now, Flores wasn't necessarily integral in the development of Howard, who was a 2016 draft pick. But he certainly understood how to maximize his special yet imperfect skill set.

And now Flores gets another intimidating boundary cornerback with otherworldly length and an up-and-down style the Vikings are likely hoping can be smoothed out to more consistent play. The former Alabama defender had three picks and seven pass breakups at Oregon in 2023. It'll be fascinating to monitor how Flores works with another Howard-like specimen in his secondary.

Trapasso topped his rankings with Steelers rookie linebacker Payton Wilson, whom they drafted 98th overall.

Click here to view all 10 players Trapasso believes will be the best fits with their new teams.

PFF spotlights 'most underrated player' for all 32 teams

Which players across the league aren't getting the attention they deserve?

Analytics site Pro Football Focus recently tackled that question, highlighting the "most underrated player" on each team's current roster. PFF's Zoltán Buday pointed to Vikings linebacker Ivan Pace, Jr., for Minnesota's player flying most under the radar. He wrote:

Pace burst onto the scene as an undrafted rookie in 2023 and was the third-highest-graded linebacker in the entire NFL after three weeks. While his performance tailed off a bit and his playing time was reduced, he remained very productive on pass plays. Pace was one of just two linebackers to earn PFF grades over 77.0 for both coverage and pass rush, the other being Fred Warner.

Who did Buday select for Minnesota's division rivals?

View photos of Vikings players during rookie minicamp practice on May 11 at the TCO Performance Center.

In Chicago, he believes guard Tevin Jenkins is most underrated.

Jenkins, who was moved inside from tackle following his rookie season, showed in 2023 that his solid performance at guard in 2022 was not a fluke season but a sign of things to come. While he missed time due to injury and needed to line up at both guard positions last season, Jenkins still finished the season as PFF's 14th-highest-graded guard in 2023 (72.6).

Defensive tackle Alim McNeill should garner more attention in Detroit, per Buday.

McNeill might have been one of the most improved players of the 2023 season. The former third-round pick went from earning a 69.8 PFF overall grade in his second season to an 86.9 mark in 2023, which ranked seventh among interior defenders. He was one of just six players at the position to earn 75.0-plus run-defense and pass-rush grades last season.

And for the Packers, Dubay said to watch out for wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks.

There are multiple candidates here, considering the Packers young, ascending offense, but second-year receiver Dontayvion Wicks finished as Green Bay's highest-graded receiver in 2023 (77.8). The then-rookie was playing at a high level toward the second half of the season, earning an 83.6 PFF overall grade from Week 11 onward, which ranked 10th among wide receivers. He caught 95.1 [percent] of his catchable targets in 2023, which ranked second among all wide receivers.