J.J. McCarthy made the throws he’ll need in Broncos offense

Mar 2, 2024, 4:01 PM | Updated: 4:15 pm

INDIANAPOLIS — J.J. McCarthy looked the part at his NFL Scouting Combine workout on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

That doesn’t mean the national-championship-winning quarterback was perfect. Throwing to his left side — in the first part of the workout — McCarthy appeared to have a bit too much energy. His first pass was completed, but he fired a fastball when off-speed would have worked better.

But McCarthy settled down and found a groove, throwing with pop and velocity for the rest of those slant routes — and for the work that followed. He flourished throwing outside the numbers between 15 and 25 yards; this is where McCarthy’s anticipation was preternatural, particularly to the right flank, where he consistently hit receivers in stride. This skill would serve him well in a Sean Payton offense.

The roughest part of the session came during a series of out patterns to the left sideline, where his placement was off, even though he completed three of four passes. McCarthy also went 1-of-4 going deep and to the right sideline, but two of the three incompletions in that period were placed well and should have been caught.

All told, McCarthy completed 35 of 44 passes — 16-of-20 looking to his left and 19-of-24 going to his right.

“Personally, there’s a lot of things I’d like to get back, the shuttles and a couple of throws here and there,” McCarthy told NFL Network.

But he added, “I had so much fun,” and his enthusiasm came across during the workout. McCarthy’s energy was infectious.

McCarthy also told NFL Network that he met with 11 teams — including the Broncos.


Of course, Nix had a different demeanor than McCarthy; Nix appeared more serious throughout the session. On his short passes, Nix had a bit less velocity than McCarthy. Throughout the day, receivers had to slow down and adjust to Nix more often than McCarthy.

That doesn’t mean Nix’s throws weren’t catchable during the workout. He completed 34 of 38 attempts — with one incompletion dropped and another seeing the receiver slip on his route. The difference between Nix and McCarthy revealed itself in the intermediate throws to the right sideline; McCarthy threw to a spot, anticipating the receiver catching up to the ball, thus leading the pass-catcher. Nix tended to throw more to where the receiver was.

That said, McCarthy and Nix were the two best quarterbacks out there.

“I thought it was a solid day. I was ready to get out here and just really throw,” Nix told NFL Network after his session.


Sam Hartman, Notre Dame: Everything outside the numbers looked hard for Hartman, who struggled with accuracy on some of the out routes as he appeared to sacrifice accuracy to try and drive the ball toward the sideline. He had some deep completions, but the ball also hung up in the air, which could be problematic against defenders. Both here and at the Senior Bowl, Hartman looks the part of a steady backup who can keep an offense on schedule, but doesn’t have the driver in his bag.

Devin Leary, Kentucky: He might have gained the most of the five quarterbacks who worked out during the afternoon session here. Displaying a nice blend of touch and power, Leary, who had some flashes in Shrine Bowl practices, could be worth a longer Day 3 look.

Joe Milton, Tennessee: Don’t call him “Bazooka Joe,” he’ll tell you — as he told me during Senior Bowl week. But the rocket launcher of a right shoulder he possesses was largely kept on the shelf — with the exception of his deep passes down the right sideline, some of which covered more than 70 yards in the air. Milton appeared conscious of trying to put too much on his short-to-intermediate throws, to the point where a slew of them had a surprising lack of zip. He was timed with the highest throwing velocity — 62 miles per hour — but only one mile per hour behind him was McCarthy.

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