Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron doesn’t have the best physical tools around, but his draft stock is predicated on his intangibles and accuracy as a quarterback. Throughout his career at ‘Bama, McCarron had high completion percentage and low interception totals, and he’s hoping that those can overcome his lack of a downfield arm or ability to connect on “wow” throws. I’m not a big McCarron fan, but he’s the kind of guy who could be a solid QB in the right system. I hope he proves doubters like me wrong, but I’m not one to buy the whole “winner” label at all. That said, McCarron had an incredible career with the Crimson Tide, and that alone should be honored when assessing his legacy as a player overall- being great in college is still important in the grand scheme of things, even if he doesn’t achieve NFL success.
Anyway, much has been made of McCarron’s decision to opt out of the Senior Bowl, and multiple draft insiders such as CBS Sports’s Dane Brugler have reported that scouts they spoke with are docking McCarron a bit for his decision not to compete in the Senior Bowl. An All-Star showcase event won’t adequately reflect McCarron’s intangibles and would accentuate his lack of physical tools, so his decision is honestly understandable. But, from the other side of it, some view it as McCarron not competing to try and improve his draft stock, which is volatile. It only takes one team, and there are some who view McCarron as a top-notch QB prospect.
The National Football Post’s Jason Cole reports that talented small-school QB Jimmy Garoppolo of Eastern Illinois will take McCarron’s place in the Senior Bowl after beating out Pitt’s Tom Savage for the honor, and Cole also reports that McCarron is nursing an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
While that was likely a part of the equation in McCarron’s decision to avoid playing in the Senior Bowl, I’m willing to bet that it was a small part of the equation and clearly not a main motivating factor. He’s a tough QB who could probably play through that kind of an injury, since it doesn’t sound serious. I respect McCarron’s decision not to play in the Senior Bowl, and he has enough tape to the point where he shouldn’t be negatively viewed for not playing in the showcase game. It will be interesting to see how serious the injury is, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it is more significant than expected.