Quarterback AJ McCarron may have led Alabama to two national titles, and there may have been conversations last fall about his first-round talent, but he was all but forgotten at last month's NFL combine, when the spotlight shone on potential top-10 picks Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater.
As it stands, the NFLDraft.com/CBSSports.com big board rates McCarron as the sixth-best passer in this draft, trailing the aforementioned names as well as Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo. Among all players, McCarron ranks 89th.
Still, Nick Saban, who coached McCarron in college, said he thinks that NFL teams are underselling just how good the quarterback will be at the next level.
"I think anybody that doesn't take AJ in one of those earlier rounds is going to make a huge mistake, because I think he's going to be a very, very good player," Saban told ESPN, via PFT. "First of all, he has all the athletic talent to make all the throws that he needs to make at the next level. ... Guys who can make quick decisions, process the information and throw the ball accurately are the guys that usually end up being pretty good NFL quarterbacks."
We'll have to wait until the draft to see if NFL teams agree, but the mock-draft crowd clearly doesn't think of McCarron as a franchise-type player. Wherever the truth may lie, CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco makes a good point:
Give Nick Saban credit: At least he goes to bat for his guys and didn't George O'Leary his QB.— Pete Prisco (@PriscoCBS) March 14, 2014