With the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8th, the Houston Texans will select… well, probably not AJ McCarron. According to your Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. types, that choice will be used on Jadeveon Clowney, Johnny Manziel, Khalil Mack or even some guy named Blake Bortles.
But it would be unwise to totally count out McCarron. In addition to being the only prospect in the draft to quarterback his team to back-to-back national championships, he’s also the winning-est signal caller in the history of Alabama football—a program that knows a thing or two about winning. We caught up with the Heisman runner-up at an AXE Hair event in New York to discuss his outlook on the draft, his expanding collection of body art and, yes, Katherine Webb.
So what’s one thing you won’t miss about your old coach, Nick Saban?
Well, I’m going to miss him. I just like the way he coaches. I love him as a person. He’s awesome. And he’s always led me in the right direction and told me the truth about everything. But I won’t miss the “Stretch and Stride” we had to do before practice. That’s a Coach Saban thing. I couldn’t stand that. It was almost like a pre-practice, so you’d be worn out going into the normal practice. It was tough.
What’s the biggest area you’re trying to improve before your first NFL training camp?
My mechanics. Trying to always have my body in the right position to deliver the best throw for my receivers. That’s the biggest thing for me right now.
“One thing I’ve learned about the NFL Draft is a lot of those reporters have no clue what they’re talking about. NFL teams are not going to be telling these guys who they’re drafting.”
Alabama produced Joe Namath. It also produced Greg McElroy. Which quarterback are you more similar to?
Ha ha. I don’t know. I try not to ever compare myself to anybody. I feel like I’m my own person, my own style of QB. Everybody’s game is different, at the end of the day.
Which current NFL quarterback has the skill set most similar to yours?
Well, everybody tries to compare me to Tom Brady. Just because we’re probably both underrated coming out of college and everybody says he couldn’t move or whatever. So everybody compares us, but I don’t know. Like I said, I feel like I’m my own self, my own QB.
You’ve won two national championships. You were a Heisman runner-up. And yet, NFL Draft analysts are projecting you to be selected after quarterbacks from Central Florida, Fresno State and even Eastern Illinois. Is that frustrating?
No. I don’t worry about that. One thing I’ve learned is a lot of those reporters have no clue what they’re talking about. NFL teams are not going to be telling these guys who they’re drafting. That’s the last thing they’re going to do is go off and tell Mel Kiper or Todd McShay, like, “Hey, we’re taking this guy, so you can go report it.” So I try not to pay attention to any of that. When I get my opportunity to showcase my talents, I think I’ll be fine.
McCarron’s greatest feat? Getting an Auburn grad to pose in SI with his Alabama helmet.
Could going later in the draft be a good thing? You’d have a better chance at landing on a quality team, and you could play the rest of your career with a chip on your shoulder for being overlooked, just like Brady.
I mean, yeah, it could be a good thing. But I think you could make a good thing also off of going early in the draft. So I just want the opportunity and a chance to play football again. And like I said, when I get it, I’ll take it and run with it.
How is your fiancée handling the whole draft process? Is she worried you might get drafted by a team located thousands of miles away from Alabama or New York?
No. She’s kind of like me. We’re both just laidback and happy about the process. We’re both kind of taking it all in.
We noticed you’ve got a lot of tattoos. What’s next on the tattoo docket? Any plans for a neck tattoo?
Ha ha. No. I’m not one of those guys. I like tattoos, but I keep them where you can’t see them if I’m dressed up. … I love how people try to make it a big deal, like I’m the only person with tattoos. But that’s life, I guess!
Finally, what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
It’s from my parents. Just cherish this time on earth that God has blessed you with and have fun with every day. Take it day by day. And always remember, when you think you have it bad, there’s always somebody out there that has it a little worse than you, so be thankful for what you have.