Alabama QB McCarron says NFL teams grading him as first-round pick

Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron says NFL teams are telling him he could go between pick Nos. 16-35 in the upcoming draft.

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Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron knows its the NFL Draft’s silly season, one where harsh criticism and extreme opinions concerning the event’s prospects consistently trickle into the public conversation, and he’s not too worried about his own stock.

In fact, the two-time BCS Championship-winning quarterback is hearing that he’s first-round material.

While in studio for ESPN radio personality Paul Finebaum’s show, McCarron, who is not even listed as a top-five quarterback prospect on most reputable draft pundits’ boards entering the final month of the process, said that "pretty much" every team has told him he’s a mid- to late first-round or early second-round selection.

Basically: the pundits have it all wrong.

"(The teams) felt like I could go anywhere from 16-35," McCarron said of the projected draft picks. "I believe that, too. At the same time, I don’t have my hopes set on anything. Whatever happens, happens."

McCarron completed nearly 67 percent of his passes for 9,019 yards and 77 touchdowns during his three-year career as the Crimson Tide’s starter, throwing just 15 interceptions and finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2013 behind Florida State’s Jameis Winston. Still, though operating a pro-style offense, boasting prototypical positional height and leading coach Nick Saban’s offense to 36 wins and just four losses, McCarron’s stock has rarely, if ever, received first-round grades from draft experts.

That doesn’t concern him, either.

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McCarron called the entire process "one big poker game."

"It’s not like the GMs are calling these guys and telling them, ‘Hey, we’re going to draft this guy at this number, so go ahead and put that out there,’" McCarron said. "One thing I’ve learned about this whole process, it’s nothing but a big secret. A lot of times teams will bring in a guy just to bluff another team and make it seem like toward the media that they like this guy and really they have no interest at all in drafting him."

With a limited number of teams searching for a solution under center — with few exceptions in recent years, a first-round selection at quarterback means competing for the starting job almost immediately — McCarron will be up against the likes of Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Blake Bortles (UCF), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and Derek Carr (Fresno State), among others) to be one of the first quarterbacks chosen. And given the lack of QB needs among the second-half picks of the first round (Nos. 16-32), there are two possibilities: either McCarron knows something the experts do not, or he’s just as caught up in the draft’s rumor mill as everyone else.