The Vikings are deep into their reconnaissance work on quarterbacks in the draft class with the mission of identifying The Guy.

The two quarterbacks most often linked to the Vikings by various mocketeers are North Carolina's Drake Maye and Michigan's J.J. McCarthy.

One man has firsthand knowledge of both.

As Gophers defensive coordinator last season, Joe Rossi faced Maye and McCarthy in a span of a month, which meant he studied hours of video of them and crafted game plans with their different skill sets in mind.

Rossi left to become defensive coordinator at Michigan State after the season. He took a break from spring practice this past week to share his insights into the two quarterbacks.

First up, Maye.

"I think he's super talented," Rossi said. "He's got very good arm talent. I thought he was accurate. He goes through his progressions really well. And he's more mobile than you think.

"If things aren't open, he'll move in the pocket to throw it. And then if it's still not open, he'll pull it down and run for five and run out of bounds and line up and play the next down. I appreciate that because hey, he's moving, he's extending plays, he's getting positive yardage, but then he's being smart with the ball and not taking hits."

Rossi was mindful of Maye's mobility as he constructed his game plan.

"We wanted to keep him in the pocket as much as possible when we rushed because we knew that he would get out," he said. "When he got out, he extended the play and then sometimes the coverage would break down. We wanted to [pressure] him, but we also wanted to be aware of not giving him the opportunity to get escape lanes."

Maye lived up to the hype in a 31-13 win on Sept. 16, completing 29 of 40 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns.

The Gophers intercepted Maye on back-to-back possessions in the first half. One was a poor decision and thrown under pressure. The other was an excellent play by defensive back Jack Henderson.

The Tar Heels converted 12 of 17 third-down opportunities, almost all of them coming on Maye's passing or scrambling.

"He did a good job of keeping the chains moving, getting first downs and kind of wearing us out a little bit," Rossi said.

McCarthy and Michigan visited Huntington Bank Stadium three weeks later. The game was over before it started, with the Wolverines rolling to a 52-10 win on their way to a national championship.

Michigan's scheme limited McCarthy's profile as a passer. He averaged only 22 pass attempts per game and threw 93 fewer passes than Maye for the season despite playing in three additional postseason games. McCarthy completed 72.3% of his passes, the sixth-best rate nationally, with only four interceptions in 15 games.

"He did a really good job managing and distributing the ball," Rossi said. "He had playmakers everywhere, whether it was the tailbacks, the tight ends, the receivers. I thought he was really good off the run game in play-action and throwing over the top of defenses. He got us a couple times doing that.

"On third down, the thing we feared a ton was him running with the ball. He made a lot of plays with his feet, getting out of the pocket, long scrambles, moving the chains."

McCarthy attempted only 20 passes against the Gophers, completing 14 for 219 yards and a touchdown. He also had touchdown runs of 5 and 7 yards.

"If we would have got them into more passing situations and third down, we wanted to spy him because we felt like he was just really dangerous when he got outside the pocket," Rossi said.

The Vikings' quarterback research will be voluminous before draft night. If they asked Rossi for his perspective?

"After seeing both of them, watching them and game planning them, I think they're both first-round players," Rossi said. "If you're going to look to be more in the drop-back game and throw it, I think Maye has a little bit of an advantage there. If you're going to be more of a run-game, play-action, throw-the-ball-over-the-top [offense], I think I would probably go the other way."