What is the Vikings' plan for when J.J. McCarthy will start?

See why NFL scouts are excited about Michigan QB J.J. McCarthy (1:42)

Check out the plays that make Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy a top prospect in the 2024 NFL draft. (1:42)

EAGAN, Minn. -- Minnesota Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson's first order of business, upon learning the identity of his team's new quarterback, was to fire off a text to J.J. McCarthy, the No. 10 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.

Jefferson, known to many around the Vikings' organization as "JJ," told McCarthy that moving forward he would go by another one of his nicknames: "Jets."

"Just so we wouldn't have any confusion," McCarthy said Friday with a laugh as he relayed the story. Later, McCarthy said, Jefferson offered a bit of advice that was especially valuable from a player who needed only two games as a backup in 2020 before bursting onto the NFL scene.

"Confidence," Jefferson told McCarthy, "is key in this league."

Like everyone else in Minnesota and around the league, Jefferson knows it's only a matter of time before McCarthy becomes the Vikings' starting quarterback. But it is not likely to happen as quickly as some fans might hope, and if anything, the Vikings are poised to err on the side of methodical caution.

"We're not going to rush his development," general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah said. "We're just going to do what's best for the Vikings in the short and long term."

The Vikings will follow an individualized development plan they created for each of the quarterbacks they considered drafting, one that requires McCarthy to hit specific benchmarks and gives coach Kevin O'Connell full authority to make the timing decision. The approach is designed to avoid the worst-case scenario -- ruining McCarthy's career by exposing him before he is ready -- and is a big reason the Vikings spent $10 million in March to sign veteran Sam Darnold as a bridge starter.

It's a process O'Connell and Adofo-Mensah have been planning since meeting for the first time in 2022 during one of O'Connell's final job interviews.

"We talked about these things," Adofo-Mensah said. "Not just, 'What do we want to do from a culture standpoint?' but 'How do you evaluate quarterbacks? How do you grow quarterbacks? How do you develop them?' And the things he talked about is the reason why I have so much faith in him to take and mold a player like [McCarthy] ... into that player we want him to be.

"A lot of times when we go back over history and say, 'These quarterbacks have missed,' there's a lot of hands that are dirty in that regard. And we're going to make sure that our hands are clean and give him the best opportunity he can to be the best player he can be in this offense."

There has been an assumption that two factors would leave McCarthy needing more development time than the rest of his 2024 quarterback classmates. He just turned 21 in January, and he played in an offense at Michigan that had him throw an average of 22.1 passes per game last season, fewer than 93 other FBS quarterbacks.

But O'Connell said Thursday night that there was plenty of evidence of McCarthy making the kinds of throws he'll need to master in the NFL.

"You really go back through and center your focus on those weighty downs," O'Connell said. "You know, those third downs where you see him in third-and-[long], at a pretty strong clip, move the football team and generate new downs and get them down in the red zone and make some big time throws to put the ball in the end zone.

"In big, big moments in games when they needed him to find a way, other ways, just to make a throw, other ways to extend a play, he made a lot of those plays."

Asked what sort of timetable he anticipated for McCarthy's development, O'Connell said: "We just added J.J. a couple hours ago. I'm just more excited than anything to get him here, allow him to get around some of his teammates and start building those relationships as well. I feel great about where my relationship's at with J.J. because I feel like we've built one up in a pretty short amount of time. But he knows that I'm going to be with him every step of the way."

In his first 24 hours with the team, McCarthy spoke jovially about his hockey background, his friendship with Wayne Gretzky and his assessment of the Vikings' other first-round pick, linebacker Dallas Turner. But in showing that he has already taken his first big step in his NFL journey, he downplayed discussion of how competitive he might be with Darnold.

"My mindset is just to take one day at a time," McCarthy said, "and really focus on just getting to know everyone's names, getting to know the playbook inside and out, and to focus on being the best version of myself every single day."