Scouting the QBs: A.J. McCarron, Alabama

mccarron3FRG Scouting continues to plug away at the quarterback position, with our rankings likely to be released by the end of this week.   This scouting focus features A.J. McCarron, the two-time National Champion quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide.

There are going to be a lot of players in the 2014 NFL Draft that will have a wide range of opinions and heated debates about their draft value.  You can count McCarron in that mix, as there are some in the NFL Draft community that consider him a first-round pick, while others place his value somewhere around day three.

One thing that can’t be debated, however, is McCarron’s level of success at Alabama.

McCarron has started every game for the Crimson Tide since 2011, racking up school records and two national championships along the way.  In 2013, he had his best season as he threw for 3,063 yards, 28 TDs and only 7 Ints.  For his career, he’s totaled 9,019 yards, 77 TDs and 15 Ints, a better than 4:1 TD to Int rate.  He ended his 2013 season as  2nd Team All-SEC (just like he was in 2012.)

And while there’s no denying McCarron’s ability to win games in the SEC, the question presented is whether he has the requisite skill set to have the same success in the NFL.  Below is FRG Scouting’s evaluation of A.J. McCarron.

NAME:        A.J. McCarron
School:       Alabama
Position:    Quarterback
Height:       6’4”
Weight:      214lbs

The experienced leader of college football’s biggest powerhouse, A.J. McCarron has started 40 games and won two National Championships during his time with the Crimson Tide; He is Alabama’s all-time passing leader and holds the single-season passing record (3,063 yards, ’13)…Possesses good height and weight for the position; has the body type to hold up against NFL hits…While not a great athlete, McCarron has enough athleticism to manage rolling out and throwing on the run; He’s not going to threaten a defense with his legs, but he’s coordinated enough to escape a crumbling pocket from time to time…Possesses adequate arm strength that is capable of making all the throws on the route tree; While he doesn’t have top-tier velocity behind his passes, he does show the ability to make challenging throws…McCarron has decent accuracy, showing the ability to consistently get the ball to his receivers’ catch radius on short and intermediate throws…Has competed versus the very best talent during his time as a starter and has played on the biggest stage; There won’t be much of an adjustment period from his experience at Alabama to the NFL game.

McCarron struggles with deep ball accuracy, as there were missed opportunities on tape over and over again…Velocity is only average and he is likely to struggle fitting the ball into tight, NFL windows…Offers nothing as a running quarterback…Has benefited from the NFL-caliber talent that he’s played with on offense, especially along the offensive line; Hasn’t been challenged much re: under pressure/pass rush.

On the next level, A.J. McCarron projects as solid backup quarterback who will lean on his big game experience to compete for a starting job. His physical skill set isn’t quite as impressive as some of the other quarterbacks in this class, but few can compete with his resume as a starter. While I think it would be unfair to limit McCarron’s upside as the proverbial “game manager,” he will be an intriguing option for teams with a strong defense and running game that are looking for a safe quarterback prospect who won’t be expected to win games on his own. I was impressed with McCarron’s 2012 film and expected more from him this year, but his failure to deliver is a sign that he might have hit his ceiling in terms of physical development. He will provide good value in round 3.

GRADE: 7.0 (Late-3rd)

For video of A.J. McCarron, CLICK HERE.

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