Former Alabama QB AJ McCarron continues pre-draft mission

Anniston StarMarch 12, 2014 

Alabama Pro Day Football

Alabama's AJ McCarron awaits passing drills during pro day on Wednesday, March 12, 2014, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

BUTCH DILL — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron's mission of proving all of his detractors wrong continued Wednesday at the Crimson Tide's pro day.

McCarron, who also threw at the NFL combine, put together a scripted workout with former Tide teammates Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell and Marquis Maze.

Along with having a good showing in front of the scouts and coaches who were on hand, McCarron's goal was to also show that he can do all of the things critics say he can't.

"I've been hearing everything about arm strength and deep outs and comebacks," McCarron said. "I feel like I should silence all that. I threw it deep early in the workout and I threw it deep late. I felt like it was a real good day."

McCarron's decision to throw at the combine in front of the hundreds of scouts in attendance was viewed as a positive move. A good showing on Wednesday may have helped improve his stock even more. He said the only difference in the two events were the number of throws.

"This isn't pressure. This is easy. This is practice," he said. "I've been playing football since I was 3 years old. I don't get nervous before games or in big moments. I love this. This is when it all counts, and a chance to fulfill a dream that I've had since I was 3 years old. I was enjoying it and having fun."

McCarron said one of the things about being in-season in college is that players aren't always able to fine tune some aspects of their game because they're so focused on the team goals. But since he began training for the pre-draft workouts, McCarron said he's worked on his mechanics and other nuances of his play.

He said he felt great about his combine performance and his pro day showing.

"Going out there, the talk was about arm strength," McCarron said. "That's just peo

ple talking that don't know you and don't know the mechanics and everything. I needed to work on my mechanics. I did that. I had time to work on myself and my personal game, kind of master my craft. … It felt good to work on my game and focus on myself and I felt like overall it was a good day."

Multiple draft experts and analysts have McCarron slated as the fifth best quarterback available with players such as Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Blake Bortles (UCF), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and Jimmy Garoppolo (Eastern Illinois) rated ahead of him.

Following his workout, McCarron was asked if he felt he was the best quarterback in this year's draft class.

"Yeah, why not?" he said. "The rest of those guys feel like they're the best. It's a mind-set you have to carry in yourself. I feel like my play speaks for itself over the three years I started in the SEC. I definitely do."

Eyeing a return to NFL

Earlier this week, reports surfaced that former Alabama linebacker standout Rolando McClain was considering a return to the NFL.

On Wednesday at Alabama's pro day, McClain said he "didn't have any plans" when it came to giving the NFL another shot. But he also didn't rule out a potential return to the league.

McClain, 24, retired from the NFL in May 2013 to get his personal life in order. McClain found off-field trouble as a pro and was arrested multiple times.

Since retiring, he has returned to Tuscaloosa to complete his degree and said he only has to take two more classes in the summer before he graduates.

He was signed with the Baltimore Ravens at the time of his retirement. McClain said he hasn't had any conversations with the Ravens, but said that his agent, Pat Dye Jr., may have.

McClain said he didn't watch much football during his time away from the sport. He said his days are spent in class, working out or being a parent.

"I feel better as a person overall," McClain said.

"My two little boys are doing a great job. They're wild, but they keep me busy."

McClain said becoming a father is one of the biggest reasons he has been able to mature.

"That's the biggest part with anyone," he said. "When you do have kids, you're forced to grow up even if you aren't ready."

After starring for Alabama's at middle linebacker and helping lead the Tide to the 2009 national championship, McClain was the 8th overall pick by the Oakland Raiders in the 2010 NFL Draft.

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