2014 NFL Draft Scouting Report: A.J. McCarron

  • Limits mistakes
  • Makes good decisions
  • Quality game-manager
  • Field vision
  • Ball security
  • Distributes the ball to a variety of weapons
  • Good on touch passes
  • Basis for good footwork
  • Accurate
  • Improved throughout college
  • Intelligent
  • Hard worker
  • 3-year starter
  • Leader
  • Good teammate
  • Experienced and successful against elite college programs

  • Weaknesses:
  • Lacks arm strength
  • Not a good fit for a vertical offense
  • Doesn’t throw into tight windows
  • Needs to improve anticipation
  • Can get rattled by pass rush
  • Little mobility
  • Not a running threat
  • Not a play-maker

  • Summary: McCarron was a steady presence in the Alabama offense over the past three seasons and helped guide the Crimson Tide to two national championships. With a great defense and running game, Alabama didn’t have McCarron throw the ball that often, and when he did he had a lot of wide-open receivers, but the Crimson Tide didn’t need McCarron to be a play-maker in order to win. McCarron was a good game-manager and was more capable than John Parker Wilson or Greg McElroy.

    McCarron won the starting quarterback job as a sophomore after McElroy moved on to the NFL. McCarron had the luxury of a tremendous running game and defense to carry Alabama to a National Championship in 2011. He completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,634 yards with 16 touchdowns and five interceptions for the year.

    Alabama repeated as National Champions the next season. Once again, McCarron had the support of a great running game, and one of the best offensive lines in college football history. The junior completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards with 30 touchdowns and three interceptions. He had great opportunities to throw the ball with defenses focused on stopping the Crimson Tide’s rushing attack.

    McCarron generally played well in 2013 even though his supporting cast wasn’t as good as the previous two seasons. The senior completed 67 percent of his passes for 3,063 yards with 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. His performances versus Virginia Tech and Ole Miss in 2013 were underwhelming.

    On the flip side, he played extremely well against Texas A&M to win a shootout at Kyle Field. To end his collegiate career, McCarron struggled against Oklahoma. He was rattled by the Sooners’ pass-rushers and had three turnovers. It illustrated the concern that McCarron’s superb supporting cast was masking some weaknesses in his game during the past three years. McCarron rarely ever saw a steady pass rush as his tremendous offensive line constantly kept clean pockets for him.

    McCarron doesn’t have a very strong arm for the NFL level and doesn’t fit a lot of throws into tight windows. His anticipation could be better as well. It is clear that Alabama coached McCarron to be a good game-manager and not turn the ball over. He was very good at avoiding interceptions, but he often had wide-open receivers; a luxury that won’t be available in the NFL. McCarron was a reliable game-manager, but he isn’t a play-maker who can produce points on his own ability to beat a defense.

    McCarron doesn’t have an above-average arm or mobility. For the pros, he looks like a solid backup who could function well as a game-manager for a team that is based around a tough defense and running game. McCarron could help a team win in that situation and has the potential to be a quarterback similar to Trent Dilfer with the 2000 Ravens.

    That being said, some teams view McCarron more favorably. WalterFootball.com knows one quarterback-needy team picking in the top 10 that has McCarron rated ahead of Teddy Bridgewater. McCarron looks like a second-day pick for the 2014 NFL Draft.

    Player Comparison: Brodie Croyle. Sources told me they didn’t see a real difference between McCarron and Croyle. In fact, they felt that Croyle has a stronger arm than McCarron. Since entering the NFL as a third-round pick of the Chiefs, Croyle has been a backup quarterback. McCarron looks like he could be a solid backup and game-manager to finish games if a starter is injured or help as a starter in a limited amount of time.

    NFL Matches: Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, Detroit, Green Bay, Chicago, Baltimore, Cincinnati, New Orleans, New England, St. Louis

    There are a lot of ton of teams that could consider McCarron. Some of the clubs that need a long-term starter could target an elite talent early in the first round and a player like McCarron on Day 2.

    The Texans need a starting quarterback for Bill O’Brien, and McCarron’s intelligence could appeal to the rookie head coach. The Jacksonville Jaguars could consider McCarron on Day 2 to be their starter of the future if they address another position in the first round. Jacksonville could certainly use a starter who is used to winning.

    Cleveland needs a new quarterback and has a lot of picks on the second day of the 2014 NFL Draft. Oakland brought in Matt Schaub, so that organization may wait on a quarterback. McCarron could make sense for the Raiders in the third round.

    Tampa Bay is expected to draft a quarterback despite signing Josh McCown. Lovie Smith has been partial to game managers in the past, and McCarron could fit Smith’s defense-led team.

    Minnesota also is looking for a new quarterback. If Mike Zimmer wants to pattern the Vikings after the way the Bengals were built, Minnesota could look for an Andy Dalton-like quarterback on Day 2; it is a role McCarron would fit.

    There is a huge group of teams that could consider McCarron as a long-term backup option. They might target him in the third or fourth round. Both Detroit and Chicago lost their backup quarterbacks in free agency. McCarron could be selected to replace either one.

    New England and New Orleans could draft McCarron on Day 3 to backup their future Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Packers were hurt by their backups in 2013, so McCarron could be brought in as backup competition. Cincinnati could use a backup to Andy Dalton. Baltimore is said to want an upgrade at backup quarterback, and Ozzie Newsome has drafted a lot of Alabama products. St. Louis could use a backup option behind Sam Bradford.


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