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QB Watch: A.J. McCarron

Posted Feb 25, 2014

QB Watch is a series that examines early and mid-round quarterbacks that could be drafted by the Texans.

Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Blake Bortles have all been discussed as possible first-round quarterback prospects.

But what if the Texans go another route? What if they don’t select a quarterback at No. 1? What if Houston trades down for more picks later in the draft? This is the first part in a series looking at early and mid-round quarterbacks that could be a possible fit for the Texans.

Could A.J. McCarron be the Texans future quarterback?

A.J. McCarron could fit what Bill O’Brien is looking for a in a quarterback. The two-time Alabama national champion played under head coach Nick Saban who, like O’Brien, coached under Bill Belichick. With Saban as his head coach at Alabama, McCarron faced the one of the most talented, NFL-like defenses in college football every week in practice and lost just four times in his college career.

“Saban is the closest you can get to facing an NFL defense (in college).” McCarron said at the Combine on Friday. “Especially blitz-wise, he makes up NFL blitzes. I feel like I’ve seen every type of defense you could possibly see. I’m the most experienced guy when it comes to that. It’s almost like New England is the Alabama of pro football.”

O’Brien knows what he wants in a quarterback. As quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at New England, his work with Tom Brady leads many to believe O’Brien will find a quarterback with similar attributes. When McCarron was asked which NFL quarterback he patterned his game after, his answer was simple. McCarron referred to the Patriots All-Pro as “one of the best to ever play the game.”

“Everybody’s different, but when it comes to similarities, from body-build to how we were talked about coming out of college, I think Tom Brady,” McCarron said. “I think we play the game the same way. He still moves in the pocket pretty well to get away from blitzes. Everybody doubted his arm strength coming out. He’s turned out pretty good so far, I would say.”

McCarron’s arm strength has also been doubted but he disagrees with his critics.

“All the experts try to knock me on my deep ball,” McCarron said. “(They) try to say my arm’s not strong. My arm’s strong enough. I mean I can throw the ball 65 yards.”

The Crimson Tide quarterback has a big chip on his shoulder like Brady, who was drafted in the sixth-round. McCarron, with a 36-4 career record, dislikes the term “game manager,” used by those he felt he was helped by all the future NFL talent surrounding him. Even at this year’s Combine, Alabama boasted the highest number of invitees among SEC schools with 12 players.

“I feel like I’ve been disrespected my whole college career because I won,” McCarron said. “That’s usually the knock on me. (Can’t throw) the deep ball and I won with NFL talent. And it’s not like we didn’t play anybody. We played in the SEC, which is the best conference in college football.”

A bit brusque and with no pretense of playing the role of media darling, McCarron waved off questions about his draft status.

“It doesn’t matter where I play,” McCarron said. “We can go out and play in this parking lot. If there’s any NFL team out there, I’ll go and play for them. I just want to play the game of football. I just want to go out there and show the people that doubted me that I can play to a high capability.”

McCarron’s Pros
- Size: At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he’s bigger than top prospects Bridgewater, Manziel, and Derek Carr.
- Efficiency: In four years, he’s thrown for 77 touchdowns , 15 interceptions, and had a passer efficiency rating of 162.54.
- Pro-style offense: He may be more NFL-ready than most quarterbacks in his draft class.

McCarron's Cons
- Speed: Not known for his mobility, McCarron’s 40-time at the Combine was an underwhelming 4.94.
- Game manager: The jury is out as to whether he’s a playmaker or just someone who wins because of the talent surrounding him.
- Durability: McCarron has had multiple injuries throughout his career at Alabama. He skipped the Reese’s Senior Bowl to rest a shoulder injury.

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