JJ McCarthy is the top-ranked Big Ten quarterback in ESPN’s new QB tiers, which it published on Tuesday morning.

ESPN’s David M. Hale ranked all 133 quarterback situations nationally, and Michigan’s graded out near the top.

McCarthy landed in tier 2 along side 3 other highly-respected passers: Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson, Kansas’ Jalon Daniels and UTSA’s Frank Harris. Only 6 quarterbacks are ranked above McCarthy: North Carolina’s Drake Maye, USC’s Caleb Williams, Oregon’s Bo Nix, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., Utah’s Cameron Rising and Florida State’s Jordan Travis.

Here’s some analysis from ESPN and an anonymous Big Ten defensive coordinator:

Michigan’s offense isn’t like the others whose QBs rank among the top tiers. The Wolverines have a tandem of great backs, want to play physical and don’t ask McCarthy to drop back and throw 50 times a game. They do, however, ask him to do a lot at the line of scrimmage.

“There’s a thought that if you can get him into a dropback passing game, you can take advantage of him a little bit,” one Big Ten coordinator said. “But he’s in a complex system, and that can affect things like completion percentage. They don’t always do a lot of stuff that gets easy completions. I do think he’s very talented, and I think he really gets them going with his feet. That’s the underrated part of his game, and it really helps them with their run game.”

Last season, McCarthy threw for 2,719 yards and 22 touchdowns. He helped lead Michigan to its 2nd straight Big Ten Championship and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

With another year of experience, Michigan and McCarthy will be trying to get back to the CFP again in 2023.