AJ McCarron   QB   Alabama

TALENT BOARD ROUND  4

STRENGTHS
AJ has good size and arm strength to make all the throws at the next level. He has solid mechanics and when he sets his feet, he shows on film good velocity and touch on all his throws. He has performed well in very big games and might be the one quarterback in this draft that has the most experience playing in as many bowl games and divisional championship games. He is excellent at handing the ball off and did a solid job this year with a young offensive line in front of him which shows some leadership potential. AJ is a systems quarterback. He can be productive at the next level in a vertical play action offensive system, but will struggle in a system that requires a quarterback to be the focal point.

CONCERNS
AJ needs a clean pocket to produce. He also doesnít throw receivers open, he waits for them to be open except for slant routes. He knows if those are not successful, the blame will be on the receiver and not on him. AJ is comfortable throwing the routes he knows he wonít be blamed for if they are not successful and the play calling reflects that. The coaches lead the team so AJĎs leadership qualities are not prevalent. He has been cocooned on a team that has very strong coaching and great college players and the need for that team to rely on AJ to win a game has been nonexistent over the years. I donít think AJ has a clue what to expect or suspect at the next level without a strong team around him. He might disintegrate both athletically and mentally. I suspect that he will be excellent with a red shirt on and will light it up in a game that doesnít allow blitzing, like the Senior Bowl.

BOTTOM LINE
AJís job on his team is to not make mistakes and cost them the game. His coaches manage the game and AJís job is to execute just like the other players on the team. He has a few more responsibilities but the truth is the coaches tell him ďdonít think it hurts the teamĒ. When adversity strikes this teamís coaches, do not go to AJ to pull them out of a hole. They rely on the powerful run game and then look for the easy pass (off play action) with a clean pocket for AJ to strike with. Iím not suggesting that AJ will not be a good or solid QB at the next level if he is in the right situation. Iím suggesting that because of the team and situation that AJ has been in for the last three years, that no one (including AJ) has a clue how successful he can be or not be at the next level right now. AJ has never been hit in the pocket at the college level and when he gets hit and sees the pressure he will be under in the pocket at the next level. Iím sure it will come as a shock to his system. When I watch AJ on film itís like Iím watching an instructional film on how to play his position. Everything is set up perfect for him. Three & five step drops are never rushed, his throwing mechanics are perfect, and the pocket looks like an umbrella surrounding him. He always seems to be able to step up into the pocket and he very rarely gets hit or is pressured or is flushed out of the pocket or has to throw on the run. AJ is never asked by his coaches to win a game passing the ball. AJ reminds me a lot of a former second round pick, Todd Collins. I use to call Todd ďThe Great PretenderĒ because every time he was on the field that old song from The Platters would start to go off in my head. When I think of AJ in the NFL I hear that old song playing as well.

Drew Boylhart
Dec/2013