Alabama Football: AJ McCarron's NFL Potential Will Be Unveiled vs. Notre Dame

David DanielsSenior Writer IDecember 15, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 01: Quarterback AJ McCarron #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide throws a first half pass against the Georgia Bulldogs during the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

This January, AJ McCarron can earn millions.

In order to claim the college football crown for the second straight season, Alabama’s quarterback must make plays against Notre Dame’s No. 1-ranked defense. His success or failure in doing so will paint the picture that is his NFL potential.

Alex Scarborough of ESPN reported that, after McCarron announced he’d return to Alabama for his senior season, head coach Nick Saban raved about him:

He's done a great job for us and has really grown, not only as a quarterback and a player, but as a leader of our team. He showed very good maturity in looking at all of the factors and making an informed decision on his future. He has a chance to add to what he has already accomplished here while also better preparing himself for the next level.

Right now, it’s difficult to tell what McCarron will look like at the next level.

His supporters will point to his baffling touchdown-to-interception ratio over the last two years of 42-8. His critics, on the other hand, would rather highlight the fact that he hasn’t eclipsed the 3,000-yard passing or 30-touchdown mark, despite the wealth of talent around him.

Because of his lack of overwhelming production, it’s unrealistic to believe McCarron will ever develop into a stat-stuffer at the professional level. But how about a quarterback who just has a knack for leading his squad to victory, a la Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger before their recent stat line inflations?

In the 2012 BCS National Championship against LSU, McCarron completed 23-of-34 passes for 234 yards against the most talented defense in the country besides the Crimson Tide’s. In a few weeks, he’ll once again face the nation’s best stop unit.

And what if he does do the exact same thing to the Fighting Irish that he did to the Tigers? McCarron would enter the 2013-14 college football campaign with a chance to win three straight national titles.

Doing so would instantly shed his supposed label of a “game manager” for one of a “winner.”

Despite the countless skeptical of McCarron’s game, he just has to keep doing what he’s doing to earn a Day 1 or 2 NFL draft grade.


David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.