2014 Sugar Bowl: AJ McCarron Can Prove First-Round Status Against Oklahoma

By Ryan Heckman

Thursday night, the Alabama Crimson Tide take on the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2014 Sugar Bowl in what should be a solid game. While Alabama is thought of as clearly the better team, Oklahoma’s defense has greatly improved in 2013. Heck, Alabama thought they would be fighting for a National Championship come this time of year, but nevertheless they are now a 1-loss team in the Sugar Bowl.

One of the interesting aspects of this game will be to see how quarterback AJ McCarron fares against a defense ranked 16th in the nation against the pass and 14th overall. A year ago, Oklahoma wasn’t anywhere close to those numbers but have come a long way this past season.

McCarron is thought to be either a late-first round pick or sure-fire second round pick in the upcoming 2014 NFL Draft. However, some pro scouts have guaranteed his first round status; one even comparing McCarron to the great Tom Brady.

“Good size, outstanding touch on all throws, can make all the throws but only has average arm strength. Average running ability but very good feet and movement in the pocket to avoid sacks. Outstanding progression-read quarterback, makes throws to his second and third reads consistently,” an AFC scout told told NFL.com’s Albert Breer.

“Doesn’€™t turn the ball over. Winner. Mentally tough. Has the moxie and cockiness most great QBs have. Very similar to Tom Brady in stature, athletic ability, arm strength, touch and the most important category — wins.€”

While making great points about McCarron, he still has one game to go in order to solidify his draft stock and, possibly, cement a first-round status. Oklahoma is giving up an average of 198 passing yards per game, while McCarron has thrown for an average of 223.

One of the most impressive parts about McCarron is his efficiency. He’s only thrown five picks all season long, versus 26 touchdowns. Even more shocking is the amount of sacks he’s taken — 10. McCarron knows how to get rid of the football when he needs to, but doesn’t sacrifice making poor throws in order to do so.

Whether or not Alabama comes away with a win may have some impact on McCarron’s draft stock, but the most important thing is that he continues to play efficient football. I have a feeling if he wants to see his name called within the first 32 picks, McCarron will have to put up a huge night Thursday against the Sooners.

Ryan Heckman is a Senior Writer for RantSports.comFollow him on Twitter @ryanmheckman, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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