Greg McElroy was a two-year starting quarterback for Alabama. In 2010, the 6-foot-2, 222-pound McElroy led the Tide to the BCS National Championship and a perfect 14-0 record. As a senior last season, he threw for nearly 3,000 yards with 20 TDs and just five interceptions, while completing 71 percent of his passes. Yet despite his success, scouts still have a litany of questions about whether he will succeed in the NFL. Concerns include a lack of arm strength and his over-reliance on check down throws to running backs. As of now, McElroy is projected to be picked anywhere from the fourth to the sixth round.
The day before the 2011 NFL Draft, Greg and I talked about how he's addressed these questions and what he's most looking forward to upon entering his professional career.
Talk about your feelings entering the draft. Are you nervous, excited?
I think it's anxiety. I think really, it’s so hard to sit back and try to guess, and get worried. Quite frankly, just enjoy it -- this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I’ve kind of given up on trying to steer a team or maybe think a team will give me an opportunity. It’s unique, but it’s something I’ve enjoyed. I think I’ve learned a lot, and matured a lot over the course of the situation.
What have you worked on and improved the most since the season ended?
Well, quite frankly, I’ve been kind of hamstrung just because I broke my hand, so I haven’t been able to do a ton physically. So I’m a little bit behind in that regard, but I’m doing everything I possibly can from a mental standpoint to try to understand a professional system even better. Just try to improve my footwork as well, because my while my hand was in a cast I couldn’t do much from a throwing and lifting standpoint. Improving my footwork was one thing that I could do, so I definitely tried to exploit that and I think I made a lot of great strides as well.
What teams have you spoken with the most recently?
I talked to the Kansas City Chiefs and the Bears [Wednesday] morning, so I’ve probably talked to at some point or another, around 25 teams. So I’ve done my rounds. I’ve had a chance to communicate with several teams. At the same time, really, it’s a crapshoot. A team that never talked to me before is the one that could pick me up. Everyone just told me, "Keep an open mind and be optimistic and everything will work out for the best," because all you need is an opportunity at the end of the day.
Is there a quarterback in the NFL who you best compare to or try and model your game after?
Well, it’s hard for me to compare to somebody, but I’d say Tom Brady because our playing styles aren’t necessarily similar, but our ability to prepare and break down and our ability to get victories [is]. He’s won, I’ve won, and that’s someone I’ve always really just looked up to and respected while carrying myself as a football player.
What was your record in high school and college?
24-3 in college and 40-3 as a starter in high school and college.
Have you built any relationships with other quarterbacks or anybody else leading up to the draft?
Yeah, Mike Neal from Nebraska, tight end; Conrad Reuland, tight end from Stanford; those are my guys I worked out with and we spent a lot of time together. So those are guys that I’ve really enjoyed, and we’ve gotten close because of all that special time I guess. Really other than that, I’ve known a lot of the quarterbacks the majority of the time. I mean we all grew up together; we all grew up going to camps, a lot of guys in or around the Texas area. [Andy] Dalton, [Christian] Ponder, [Ryan] Mallett, myself -- there’s plenty of guys. Jake [Locker] -- we’ve thrown with him at Elite 11. There’s plenty of times where we’ve all kinda been together. You all cross paths, the world’s really small when you get to this level. You know I’m wishing those guys the best as well.
How has your relationship changed with the other Alabama guys (Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus and Mark Ingram), who are all expected to come off the board very early?
Yeah, it’s changed our relationship a little bit; it’s put a little strain on it, just because we’re not seeing each other every day. You know, they still mean the world to me. I love those guys so much, and I can’t wait to see where they’re gonna end up, and I can’t wait to hear their name get called. You know, it’s difficult to keep in touch, this is really the only time in your life where you’re just strictly worried about your individual status as a player and as a prospect, and you can’t really worry about other teammates. You hope the best for them, but you just can’t do it. Wherever they do go, I’ll be a fan of that team and hope they do well.
You were a 4.0 student in college and finalist for the Rhodes Scholar award. How do you plan to use those connections you built?
I kinda thought about potentially doing politics maybe. I’ve thought about potentially doing entrepreneurial activities. At the same time, I mean, broadcasting and being around sports is something that I’ve always cared about. I don’t care what it may be, I just want to be involved in sports. I want to be around sports. I genuinely cherish football, baseball, basketball -- I love them all. As long as I’m involved in sports in one way or another, then I can be happy at the end of the day.