AJ McCarron will leave a lasting legacy behind him as the quarterback of the Alabama Crimson Tide. His illustrious collegiate career includes a 36-4 record, two BCS National Championship trophies, and finished as the runner-up for the 2013 Heisman Trophy. But there are questions about his playmaking ability at the next level as he has been saddled with a “game-manager” tag from his time at Alabama under Nick Saban. That makes McCarron’s decision to skip the upcoming Reese’s Senior Bowl, and his rationale behind doing so, all the more confusing.
The Senior Bowl is an opportunity for many of the top players in college football to show what they can do in front of NFL scouts and player personnel people. It’s an opportunity to really give your draft stock a boost as many of the individuals responsible for drafting players will be in attendance (or have a representative there for them). But McCarron declined the invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, reportedly on the advice of his agent, Todd France, so that he can focus on “preparing for the NFL Combine, pro day and the rest of the pre-draft evaluation process.”
McCarron reportedly doesn’t feel like he needs to participate in the Senior Bowl and can do just the bare minimum of appearances at the combine and his pro day because he feels that he is a top-20 prospect for the draft. Unfortunately for him, most scouts would disagree. According to Scouts, Inc., McCarron is just the 43rd best player available in the 2014 NFL draft and just the fourth-best QB. There are questions about his accuracy and arm strength and his decision to turn down the Senior Bowl invite has some questioning his competitiveness. With the incredible influx of underclassmen in this year’s draft class, McCarron is far from a lock for a top-20 pick this May.
While it’s great that McCarron and his agent have confidence in his ability and his value, they’re ignoring the harsh reality of the NFL Draft. Just because you’re a great college quarterback doesn’t mean you will step in and succeed at the NFL level. If McCarron thinks he should be chosen in the first 20 picks, he has to go out and prove it. Unfortunately for him (and his agent), the Senior Bowl was a major opportunity to do just that and he walked away from it. Will his hubris cause him some major disappointment when the draft rolls around?