Instead of giving up his senior season of college eligibility in favor of entering the 2013 NFL draft, Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron opted to return for one more season as the leader of the Tide offense.
What a wise decision that was.
After leading the nation in passing efficiency a year ago, the quarterback with 49 career touchdown passes and only eight interceptions surely must have felt the gravitational pull that is the NFL. Playing in the league is the ultimate destination for most collegiate athletes, after all.
Instead, McCarron is still a member of the Crimson Tide and will look this fall to lead Alabama to an unprecedented third consecutive national crown.
The 2013 NFL draft that McCarron passed on was held this past weekend in New York City, and, after all the picks were made, it appears McCarron made the right decision.
There were only 12 quarterbacks taken in the seven rounds of this year's draft.
With McCarron not in the mix, it is tough to speculate on exactly where he would have landed. We can make a somewhat educated guess, though.
The best-case scenario for McCarron, most likely, would have placed him behind Oklahoma's Landry Jones in the eyes of the NFL scouts. Jones was taken with the 115th overall pick in the fourth round.
This would mean that McCarron, if truly next in value, would have been drafted no earlier than the sixth round, where Central Florida's Latavius Murray was chosen by Oakland with the 181st overall selection.
This supposition also has McCarron being taken before Miami (OH) quarterback Zac Dysert and Duke's Sean Renfree among others.
The 2014 draft, however, may be exactly the right place for McCarron.
Currently, CBSSports.com has McCarron listed as the top quarterback prospect in the entire 2014 class. This projection has McCarron ahead of Georgia's Aaron Murray, Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas and Clemson's Tajh Boyd.
Danny Flynn of Bleacher Report had McCarron ranked as the fourth-best quarterback prospect in an article from February.
Yes, there is an entire season ahead that will help shake that out, and it may play out that way come next April.
Still, if McCarron puts together another season as impressive as his last two at Alabama, it will be very difficult for NFL scouts to dismiss him so easily.
McCarron will have three years under his belt running Nick Saban's offense, one that is primarily pro style and is not at all gimmick-based.
One more thing that will benefit McCarron in his senior season is the number of extremely talented receivers he will have to work with.
The combination of threats that includes Amari Cooper, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Chris Black, DeAndrew White and Christion Jones will make it very difficult for opposing defenses to double-team Tide wideouts.
Because of this, we may see McCarron look to throw the deep ball more often this season than in the past. The targets will be there.
If there is one knock on McCarron, aside from the "game manager" nonsense, it is that he has not always been accurate on the deeper passes. With Alabama expected this year to have its most potent offense under Saban's watch, McCarron will get every chance to debunk that myth.
Again, the 2014 NFL draft is basically an entire year away, and there are many things, including an entire season of football, that can and probably will dramatically change the way the draft will shake out.
As for AJ McCarron, though, the decision not to leave Alabama early is one that he will not regret.
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