AJ McCarron came into the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine feeling scrutinized, undervalued and wanting to prove himself.
After his workouts on Sunday, McCarron certainly made waves—some good and some bad.
One of the most important workouts for the quarterback came during the throwing drills and he executed nearly every pass with great accuracy. As for the rest of the events, McCarron didn't quite measure up with the athleticism of the rest of the class.
Before any workouts took place, the former Alabama signal-caller voiced his opinions of his critics and made it known what he planned to do during the combine, according to Will Brinson of CBS Sports:
I feel like I've been disrespected my whole college because I won. That's usually the knock on me: the deep ball and that I won. And I won behind NFL talent. Which is crazy. It's not like we didn't play anybody. We played in the SEC. To me it's the best conference in college football. I played against 40-something guys that have been drafted that are still playing in the NFL.
I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. I'm ready to get out there and prove people wrong.
Along with the fact that every single workout is already highly critiqued, the combine also marked the first time that coaches and scouts would get a look at the quarterback outside of game situations with those great teammates at Alabama that earned him so much criticism.
Adam Caplan of ESPN notes that McCarron needed to make a big statement after skipping out on another useful workout and game situation earlier in the offseason:
While he was not considered one of the top quarterbacks in the draft coming in, McCarron might not have done much for his draft stock with his results on Sunday. Though the passing drills looked good, finishing at or near the bottom of many of the workouts might have scouts worried about his potential.
With another opportunity to prove himself at Alabama's pro day later on during the draft process, look for McCarron to improve upon his results.
Here's a look at all of McCarron's workout results and where he ranks against other quarterbacks in the draft.
During his college career, McCarron was never known as a dual-threat quarterback. In fact, McCarron only finished with minus-50 rushing yards during his four-year tenure with the Crimson Tide.
Needless to say, not much was expected of his 40-yard-dash time.
And with a 4.94 result as his best time in the workout, McCarron didn't do anything to refute the thoughts that he's strictly a pocket passer. Out of quarterbacks in the drill that participated on Sunday, the 23-year-old finished sixth in his group out of nine.
McCarron gave his own thoughts on his 40 time on his Twitter account following the event:
The obvious players like Johnny Manziel (4.68) along with Jordan Lynch (4.76) and Tajh Boyd (4.84) finished ahead of him. But it was the other quarterbacks that also project as pocket passers like Blake Bortles (4.93) and Derek Carr (4.69) that should have him concerned.
He might not have compared well with the current class of quarterbacks, but what about the quarterback that he compares himself to? That signal-caller, according to Brinson, just so happens to be one of the best in the history of the game:
On Tom Brady's day at the combine, he just so happened to have an underwhelming time in the 40 with a 5.28 time, according to Ben Larsen of MassLive.com. Given those results, don't expect McCarron's 40 time to hamper him too much.
Aside from quarterbacks, McCarron's time didn't measure up to even one of the offensive linemen that could be blocking for him in the future in Auburn offensive tackle Greg Robinson, as Brandon Marcello points out:
While it wasn't one of the best times of the day for the quarterback class, McCarron didn't need to prove that he was quick out of the pocket like Manziel or Boyd. He needed to prove himself in the other drills throughout the day.
Putting stock in McCarron's vertical jump could drop him down below the likes of Stephen Morris of Miami or even Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois.
Though quite a few scouts have been harsh critics of McCarron, not many would put him in that category. But with his vertical jump of 28.0 inches, he finished ahead of just three of the 17 other quarterbacks participating in the drills.
But then again, McCarron's ability to jump and touch a series of sticks isn't exactly going to determine whether he can accurately throw a pass on Sundays in the NFL and win ballgames.
For quarterbacks like Manziel to put up huge numbers means a lot for his draft stock, but McCarron's vertical will not decide whether he gets drafted in the third or second round.
Something that was talked about leading up to the combine was whether McCarron would participate in passing drills during the event. He decided to pass and showed out.
McCarron garnered quite a bit of compliments throughout the broadcast of the drills, as SEC Sports Insider reports on Twitter:
Many of those cheers were given during the throwing drills as the former Alabama quarterback hit most of his passes with precision and zip. One of his notable poor passes came during a three-step drop on an out route that sailed high on the receiver, but he was mostly perfect from then on.
During one of the longest passing routes of the day, McCarron shined. He hit all three passes on the zig route, on which he had to execute a seven-step drop. That drew a reaction from ESPN's Josina Anderson:
Doug Farrar of Sports Illustrated gave his analysis of the quarterback following the workout:
NFL Network's official Twitter account provides video of McCarron's deep-ball drills:
NFL scouts got what they came for in watching McCarron sling the ball around and likely weren't disappointed.
Perhaps one of the most scrutinized quarterbacks in the class made sure that coaches remembered his arm in the longest passing drills of the day. While not many teams will be executing seven-step drops on a regular basis, McCarron showed that he can get the ball down the field with accuracy.
Well, this doesn't look good for McCarron.
While ranking near the bottom of the results for the other events, McCarron finished ahead of just two quarterbacks in the broad jump—and neither participated in the drill.
A broad jump of 99 inches put him behind every other signal-caller in the class and was a full 19 inches behind Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas, the leader in the class.
In fact, Thomas just so happened to have one of the best days out of any quarterback in the class. Given that, he is still not projected to be one of the top players taken in the draft and is seen as the No. 14 overall quarterback by CBS Sports.
Much like the rest of the drills, McCarron didn't fare too well in the broad jump. But his results in the combine don't say as much about him behind center as they do for quarterbacks like Manziel or Thomas, who rely on their athleticism.
After coming up well short of his mark in the other workouts that were timed or measured, McCarron fared much better in the 3-cone drill.
Though he didn't exactly finish inside the top 5, the former Alabama quarterback showed out in the 3-cone drill with a time of 7.18 seconds.
McCarron's workout landed him ahead of six other quarterbacks that participated in the event. While his time was well short of Lynch's final time of 6.55, who won the event, it gave a good display of McCarron's ability to make cuts and hopefully elude tackles in the pocket.
It was a good event for McCarron after a string of poor displays of athleticism, but it doesn't exactly prove that he'll be able to run the read option in the NFL after running the 3-cone drill with some explosiveness.
With a time of 4.34 seconds in the 20-yard shuttle, McCarron once again finished near the middle of the pack among other quarterbacks.
Manziel was once again the star in this event with a final time of 4.03, but the finish ahead of five other competitors means that McCarron was at least able to put together a few good performances in running drills.
It cannot be overstated that McCarron will not be asked to run in order to create plays in the NFL, so these results will not kill his draft stock. But with at least a few finishes that put him in the middle tier in terms of athleticism, McCarron won't be overlooked in the class thanks to his arm.
After the senior made his presence felt with his arm and accuracy during the throwing drills, McCarron might simply maintain his status in the draft. But with another event during his pro day to prove himself, expect McCarron to work hard to improve his draft stock.
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