INDIANAPOLIS -- Like any NFL rookie, AJ McCarron would like nothing more than to start as a rookie this fall.
But if the former Alabama quarterback has to ride a bench to begin his pro career, he can't think of a better place to do it than New England. After all, having played for a Bill Belichick disciple in Nick Saban, and having won three national championships in five years at the school, the winning ways in Foxborough, Mass., would be far more familiar than, for instance, the weather.
"I love the Patriots organization. If I had the chance to go there and sit behind (Tom) Brady for however long and learn from one of the best to ever play the game, that would be an awesome experience," McCarron said. "It's almost like New England's the Alabama of pro football. Coach Saban learned under coach Belichick, so it would be almost like deja vu, in a way."
The question is whether McCarron is on New England's radar.
Patriots backup Ryan Mallett isn't exactly considered the heir apparent to Brady, and may be jettisoned before Brady's current contract expires. McCarron has been projected as a second- to fourth-round pick. And while nobody knows if Belichick likes his arm, the Patriots' tight-lipped coach is sure to like his answers. Asked directly about his conversations with the club, McCarron said: "When it comes to interview stuff, I don't know how each team likes to handle (confidentiality), so I'll just try to keep everything between us."
McCarron, who declined a Senior Bowl invitation, said he decided to throw at the combine in part because he's unsure of the crowd Alabama's pro day event will draw.
"I know free agent week starts at the same time as our (Alabama) pro day, so some teams might not send GMs and head coaches might not be able to come down," he said, "so I felt like it was the best opportunity to showcase what I've been working on since our last game and leading up to pro day."