A quarterback almost certainly will go No. 1 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Heck, the top three picks might be quarterbacks, with the Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders and New England Patriots all candidates to draft signal-callers or make trades with teams eyeing QBs.

Yet, Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy isn’t expected to hear his name called that early, according to most draft experts. So, it was rather surprising Friday when his former college coach, Jim Harbaugh, predicted McCarthy will be the first quarterback selected this April.

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“Arm talent, athleticism, ‘it’ factor, winning with numbing repetition. Don’t be surprised if, when he’s the No. 1 quarterback off the board,” Harbaugh said on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd. “That’s my prediction right now.”

Say what?

“When people get a load of J.J. and how he can throw the ball, how he spins it, his athleticism, his intelligence. Talk about ‘it’ factor, he’s got it,” Harbaugh explained. “The competitiveness that he has, and they get around him, and they really start digging in, and they start talking to him, yeah, that’s an early prediction for the 2024 NFL Draft.”

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OK, so Harbaugh, now the head coach of the Los Angeles Chargers, basically is just gassing up his former quarterback. Nothing to see here, right?

Well, that’s mostly true. Although it will be interesting to see where McCarthy lands, because he’s often lumped in with the next tier of QBs — after USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels — and theoretically could be an option for the Patriots if they trade back from the No. 3 spot and/or target a quarterback later in the draft.

ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. predicted in his most recent mock draft last week that New England would select Maye at No. 3, with Williams and Daniels going to Chicago and Washington at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Kiper projected McCarthy would go No. 16 overall in Round 1 to the Seattle Seahawks — the first quarterback picked after the top tier.

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“While I don’t have a first-round grade on McCarthy right now — a lot can change before Round 1 on April 25 — he does have first-round arm talent, along with the ability to beat defenses with his legs,” Kiper wrote. “He’s the type of quarterback teams will take a shot at in the middle of the first round, especially when you consider he just turned 21 a few days ago.”

McCarthy clearly boosted his stock by leading Michigan to a national championship. And maybe he will be an excellent NFL quarterback, making good on the promise both Harbaugh and Kiper outlined.

Just don’t expect him to be the first quarterback selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, unless something drastically changes in the coming months. Whether that increases or decreases his likelihood of ending up with the Patriots depends on what New England decides to do with its No. 3 pick.

The possibilities seem endless right now.

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Featured image via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images