AJ McCarron was one of the most successful college quarterbacks in Alabama history. He won 36 games for the Crimson Tide and set school records for passing yards and touchdowns.
Listed at 6-feet-4-inches tall and 214 pounds at Alabama, McCarron has plenty of size to succeed in the NFL. It's the arm strength he lacks. In many ways, McCarron is an ordinary quarterback without too many extraordinary traits.
Where McCarron Wins
Based on his skill set, where McCarron wins is in college. He was efficient in terms of distributing the ball to Alabama's playmakers in a timely fashion and while making smart decisions with the football. He didn't often turn the ball over and efficiently went through his reads. It's worth noting that McCarron never seemed overwhelmed in big moments. His mechanics are reasonably efficient as well. When he's afforded time in the pocket he can make some accurate throws with adequate velocity. Consistency is the issue.
Where McCarron Needs To Improve
McCarron lacks the necessary arm strength to compete at a high level in the NFL. While at Alabama, McCarron consistently under threw deep passes and failed to put enough velocity on intermediate routes. It's not impossible to improve arm strength, so that's something McCarron should be focused on early in his career. His accuracy and anticipation also leave quite a bit to be desired. His timing was often off on crossing patterns and in the intermediate areas of the field. McCarron isn't a quarterback who can make up for his lack of anticipation with superior arm strength, either.
In addition to his physical shortcomings as a passer, McCarron seems a bit risk averse as a quarterback. Since he was always surrounded by so much talent, one might think he was willing to take shots. Instead, he often opted for the check down in favor of 50-50 passes down the field. Another product of the talent around him was how infrequently McCarron had to work with bodies around him in the pocket. When the pocket did get messy, McCarron struggled to sense or avoid the rush and his mechanics suffered as a result. The amount of time he had to work with on a lot of his more impressive throws in college makes it difficult to project just how well he'll adjust to playing in the NFL.
If McCarron can improve his arm strength at all in his transition to the NFL, he has a chance to start. Otherwise, he appears to be nothing more than a backup. If the Jaguars don't draft a quarterback in round one, McCarron could be a candidate on the third day of the draft, but hopefully no sooner. If McCarron's the only quarterback the team brings in this offseason, he will have a tough time winning the starting job during training camp. Quarterbacks who can't overcome adverse conditions throughout the course of a game can't be graded as starters. McCarron never elevated the talent around him in college, he merely didn't screw it up.
Grade: 5.9, 4th round