Former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron is considered one of the top quarterback prospects in the upcoming 2014 NFL draft class. And with another good showing in the Senior Bowl, McCarron could have seen some movement upward on some draft boards.
However, according to Randy Kennedy of AL.com, the former Bama signal-caller will not be attending the Senior Bowl. In Kennedy's story, McCarron gave his reasoning for the decision:
I really appreciate being invited to play in the Senior Bowl. It is quite an honor and something I've dreamed about while growing up in the Mobile area. However, at this time, I'm putting all of my focus and energy into preparing for the NFL Combine, pro day and the rest of the pre-draft evaluation process. Therefore, I won't be taking part in the Senior Bowl.
Updates from Wednesday, Jan. 22
AL.com's Randy Kennedy reports McCarron's thought process behind skipping this year's Senior Bowl:
"It's always been a dream of mine to play in the Senior Bowl in my hometown," McCarron told the Alabama Media Group. "But my body was banged up during the year. I wanted to push through it and finish out the year for my teammates.
"When it came time to decide, I asked the advice of our team doctors, who are some of the best in the country. They said I should stay out of the game and get my body back to 100 percent healthy."
"When my toe got stepped on, the nail on my big toe cracked and the doctor had to cut off most of it," he said. "It never healed all season and kept getting infected. We thought the nail would grow back together, but a new nail grew under it. So after the Sugar Bowl I had a procedure to cut the nail out again. I was in a boot for a week after that."
"I jammed my shoulder when I was diving for the pylon against Tennessee," he said. "Structurally, there was never anything wrong, but since then I've been fighting a sore shoulder that just got more tired each week."
As Hays Carlyon, a Jacksonville Jaguars beat writer for the Florida Times-Union, points out, the Senior Bowl would give McCarron a chance to show what he can do against level competition:
I don't follow McCarron's reasoning. Why can't he play in Senior Bowl when combine is a month after the game? Pro day even longer. #Jaguars— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) January 14, 2014
To me, McCarron needed to show he doesn't need a superior supporting cast to achieve. Senior Bowl is even playing field. #Jaguars— Hays Carlyon (@HaysCarlyon) January 14, 2014
McCarron enjoyed a sparkling career at Alabama and put everything on the table for scouts to see during his tenure. In his last two seasons, he threw for 56 touchdown passes and just eight interceptions before the Sugar Bowl this year.
Unfortunately, his final game was one to forget. The QB threw for two touchdowns and 387 yards, but also tossed two interceptions in the loss to Oklahoma—only his second multiple-interception game of the season.
957 The Game's John Middlekauf reports on McCarron's possible reasoning behind this decision:
My sources say AJ McCarron chose not to play in the Senior Bowl (not b/c of the inj) b/c he thinks he's a top 20 pick— John Middlekauff (@JohnMiddlekauff) January 17, 2014
However, McCarron refuted Middlekauf's report on Twitter:
John Middlekauff & his sources are about as good as Charles Barkleys golf swing!!! 😂😂 sorry Charles! Still my boy haha #awfulreporters— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) January 17, 2014
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report also tweets about the decision, noting that it could sway NFL scouts:
I've said before that I don't mind McCarron skipping Senior Bowl, but NFL sources tell me their team will care. Could have negative impact.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 14, 2014
Is McCarron making the right decision?
With underclassmen like Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel and Blake Bortles declaring for the draft without being able to participate in the Senior Bowl, McCarron is now giving up an opportunity to convince scouts that he deserves to be considered with them at the top of the QB rankings.
Though McCarron is still viewed as a potential second- or third-round selection in the 2014 NFL draft, his decision to not attend the Senior Bowl could impact where he ultimately lands. Only time will tell if the decision will pay off or cost him in the long run.