Three-time BCS national champion and former Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron didn't impress with his workout numbers at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine on Sunday, but his strong performance in the passing drills are poised to boost his stock ahead of May's draft.
While a majority of the top quarterback prospects chose to sit out of the throwing drills, McCarron not only participated, but showcased an accurate arm, giving NFL coaches and general managers a visual to consider over the next couple of months.
Although no one will be talking about McCarron's 40-yard dash time (4.94 seconds) or his vertical jump (28 inches), he was able to display his biggest strength in Indianapolis providing NFL higher-ups with an up-close look at his touch and timing—two attributes NFL quarterbacks need in order to be successful over a long period of time.
On top of McCarron's dangerous arm, he possesses the mental makeup, pocket poise and confidence to help turn around a struggling franchise.
It's far too early to start making career comparisons, but McCarron's combine effort is reminiscent of New England Patriots quarterback and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady's back in 2000. While both are clearly short on athleticism, they aren't lacking when it comes to the ability to make plays from the pocket.
Not surprisingly, the reigning Maxwell Award winner hopes to model his NFL career after the former sixth-round draft pick.
During interviews with the media, McCarron admitted that he feels "disrespected" at times because of his success at Alabama, but adds that his experience in Tuscaloosa has prepared him for the next level, per Sporting News' Ken Bradley:
I feel like I’ve been disrespected my whole college career because I won. And that’s usually the knock on me is deep ball and that we won, and I won behind NFL talent, which is crazy because when you get to the NFL, you’re playing with NFL talent. It’s not like we didn’t play anybody. We played in the SEC — to me the best conference in college football.
The 23-year-old McCarron makes an excellent point. He succeeded at the toughest position in the toughest conference in college football. And if his strength is getting the ball to teammates where they're able to do the most with it, is that really a negative?
Based on his performance at the combine, it's clear that McCarron has the arm required to deliver the ball where and when it needs to be in the NFL.
And if the ball doesn't get there, odds are it'll hit the ground harmlessly. After all, McCarron only threw 15 interceptions total over the past three seasons with the Crimson Tide, showcasing the sort of poise and patience that NFL coaches covet.
McCarron's impressive aerial display in Indy won't erase all of the concerns about his arm strength that show up on tape, but his decision to throw while other top-flight signal-callers watched from the sideline is sure to boost his stock heading into his pro day.
His lackluster workout numbers will no doubt keep him from leapfrogging the likes of Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel on draft boards across the league, but now NFL teams have had an opportunity to see McCarron make next-level throws in person, which could ultimately determine whether a franchise selects him a round earlier than anticipated.
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