AJ McCarron's long draft wait ended at pick No. 164 in the 2014 NFL draft, courtesy of the Cincinnati Bengals. That's one spot after the Kansas City Chiefs nabbed Georgia QB Aaron Murray off the board and behind eight other quarterbacks in total.
A two-time national champion at Alabama, McCarron will drop in behind the oft-criticized Andy Dalton, though it remains to be seen if he is capable of pushing for the starting job himself at any point in the near future.
McCarron said on The Paul Finebaum Show last month that "pretty much everyone" had told him that he would slot into this draft somewhere between picks 16-35, per al.com. His slide into Saturday's action coincided with reports that McCarron had not fared well as teams evaluated him more closely.
"The question from evaluators is: How much do teammates really like him?" the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport offered during the Day 3 broadcast. ESPN's Adam Schefter, meanwhile, noted that McCarron may have "rubbed teams the wrong way" during the interview process.
Those rumors plus questions about McCarron's arm, athleticism and reliance on the team around him apparently supplanted all of his college success when it came time for front offices to make decisions on him. McCarron finished his Alabama career with 77 touchdown passes to just 15 interceptions, along with a 66.9 completion percentage and a 36-4 record as a starting QB. He did skip the Senior Bowl by choice, a curious decision that may have come back to haunt him.
"I mean, I feel like I’ve been disrespected my whole college career, because I won," McCarron said at the combine. "That’s usually the knock on me: [Can’t throw] the deep ball and I won with NFL talent. And it’s not like we didn’t play anybody. We played in the SEC, which is the best conference in college football.
"So I definitely have a chip on my shoulder. I’m anxious to get out there and prove everybody wrong."
Will the arrival of McCarron -- who many have compared to Dalton as an NFL player projection -- increase the pressure on Dalton as he enters the final year of his contract? The Bengals had been rumored to be considering a quarterback earlier in the draft, with the hope that some added competition might fuel Dalton through a successful 2014.
McCarron will have to convince most people that he is capable of fitting the bill as a true threat.
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