Posted: 5:56 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014
By Mike Kaye
The Senior Bowl will be without hometown hero A.J. McCarron.
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron plans to skip this year's Senior Bowl, according to Randy Kennedy of AL.com. The annual college all-star game takes place in McCarron's backyard of Mobile, where he grew up attending the contest as a child. McCarron apparently believes his prowess at Alabama will give scouts enough information when deciding whether or not to draft the quarterback.
McCarron started 40 games over his final three seasons for Alabama, where he won 36 games including two BCS National Championships. He finished his career with a consecutive losses to Auburn and Oklahoma, but compiled 9,019 passing yards and 77 passing touchdowns over four years. The quarterback only had 15 interceptions over three seasons as a starter.
While McCarron's success on the field is well documented from a statistical standpoint, the Senior Bowl is a prime opportunity for scouts to study the strengths and weaknesses of players in person prior to the NFL Draft. Along with the Combine and college pro days, the Senior Bowl serves as an up-close glimpse into a possible future employee. It is the equivalent of an SAT for professional football players. McCarron's lack of interest in the game may come off as either carelessness or over-confidence.
Although Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley have chosen to remain in school, McCarron is still part of a draft class with plenty of quarterback talent. The class includes Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, Central Florida's Blake Bortles, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Clemson's Tajh Boyd and Georgia's Aaron Murray, among others. McCarron will likely fall in the middle or behind all of those passers in the selection process. He could drop even further if scouts don't feel he has been properly evaluated.
McCarron is excluded from Mocking the Draft's top 100 players, and ranks 12th on the site's quarterback rankings. He is placed eighth on CBS Sports' quarterback prospect rating list. As a result, unless several quarterbacks are selected in the first two rounds, McCarron could be in for a very long weekend in May. With that in mind, it is hard to fathom why he would not want to take the opportunity to potentially increase his stock.
McCarron's decline of the Senior Bowl invitation is due to his apparent interest in getting a jump-start to prepare for other pre-draft evaluations. Here is what the quarterback said on the matter:
"I really appreciate being invited to play in the Senior Bowl," McCarron said. "It is quite an honor and something I've dreamed about while growing up in the Mobile area. However, at this time, I'm putting all of my focus and energy into preparing for the NFL Combine, pro day and the rest of the pre-draft evaluation process. Therefore, I won't be taking part in the Senior Bowl."
Whether or not this move will help the quarterback will only be answered in May. For McCarron's sake, he better hope that reputation outweighs repetition in the draft process.