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Football analysis have begun unscrupulously throwing around the "twilight of his career" metaphor in Tom Brady's direction. While the specter of a post-Brady backfield may not be at the forefront of New England's thought process, the realists in the front office would be wise to begin planning for the future. With Ryan Mallett's departure almost certain, the time to find Brady's heir apparent is now—a challenge that could be just right for Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron.
He has the intangibles—leadership, poise and good decision-making. It also doesn't hurt that he won 90 percent of his games (36-4) as a starter under Nick Saban, including two national titles. Obviously he isn't rattled by the big stage, but NFL quarterbacks aren't made solely on mental toughness. In fact, the real issue in question isn't the muscle that sits between McCarron's ears, but rather the one that lies beneath his shoulder pad.
Draft analysts have been quick to point out that McCarron doesn't exactly have a cannon for an arm. His recent combine performance quelled at least some of the doubts about his downfield throwing ability, however. It's also clear that he is more than comfortable running a pro-style offense, but scouts don't put as much of a premium on that skill as in the past.
In today's read-option crazy NFL, McCarron won't get much of a look because he doesn't run a blazing 40-yard dash and can't throw a deep out off of his back foot. That being said, however, it should also be noted that a certain other New England quarterback was also criticized for his lack of arm strength and speed coming out of college.
That guy turned out okay.
McCarron is likely to still be on the board when New England makes its third-round selection. If that's the case, they would do well to snatch him up.