Nov 23, 2013; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron (10) passes against the Chattanooga Mocs during the first quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
One of the hardest quarterbacks to figure out heading towards the 2014 NFL draft is A.J. McCarron from Alabama. Given his skill set and history, what are four possible landing spots for him?
New York Jets
Call it insurance for Geno Smith. Indeed the New York Jets run the kind of offense that McCarron could thrive in. It calls for a quick hitting passing game with a heavy dedication to the run in order to keep the defense fresh for four quarters. McCarron already runs that style of offense at Alabama. Smith has not looked good at all for weeks. The questions surrounding him during the 2013 draft such as his inability to read coverage quickly or get the ball out of his hands fast are coming true. New York more than ever is in need of a field general. McCarron could fill that role and at a much more modest price of a second or third round pick.
St. Louis Rams
It seems the real success of the St. Louis Rams has come to light when they re-dedicated their offense to running the football. Zac Stacy and Bennie Cunningham have helped key a two-game win streak over playoff contenders and made backup quarterback Kellen Clemens look like Drew Brees. If this is to be their identity under head coach Jeff Fisher, then McCarron makes a lot of sense provided they are no longer high on Sam Bradford. If there is any less selfish quarterback in college football, it would be a struggle to find him. The Alabama senior seems perfectly content to hand the ball off all game and throw between 15 to 20 passes. At the same time he will know exactly how to use the several receiving weapons St. Louis has collected as well.
Head coach Marc Trestman is known for his ability to develop quarterbacks. The magic he has worked with 34-year old backup Josh McCown with the Chicago Bears is clear evidence of that. However, experts agree the coach could use a young project to mentor. A.J. McCarron looks a lot like the type that could thrive in his offense. The scheme is designed around a quick-hitting, West Coast type passing attack meant to spread the defense out and make room for bigger running lanes and passes down the field. Quarterbacks don’t necessarily require a powerful arm. They need to be smart, decisive, precise and exhibit decent mobility. McCarron fills all those requirements in addition to possessing excellent leadership.
Matt McGloin has stepped in admirably as an undrafted rookie for the Oakland Raiders but it’s hard seeing him lasting long as the Oakland Raiders starter given his physical limitations. Terrelle Pryor is also no guarantee and rookie Tyler Wilson hasn’t shown any signs of being a future starter. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson runs a West Coast style offense meant to work the ball down the field rather than going for the big plays. Like the Rams and Jets, Oakland is drive through the eyes of a defensive head coach in Dennis Allen. So the job of the offense, besides scoring, will be to control the clock and play the field position game. McCarron is not only willing to do that, but he’s actually very good at it.