Analyst: A.J. McCarron is a replica of Andy Dalton

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

One NFL analyst asks if A.J. McCarron is just another Andy Dalton, promoting the inquiry: Why draft him if we already have him?

At the very least, Cincinnati needs to bring in some competition, the general after-thought for a quarterback position that demands change. Over a month has already passed since Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton committed three turnovers in the second half against the San Diego Chargers, sending Cincinnati to a third straight first-round exit... and inviting anger for the collective inability to advance out of the Wild Card round.

Don't get started.

The Bengals aren't looking for a quarterback during the first three rounds of the NFL Draft this year, but backup quarterback figures to be a significant competition between Josh Johnson, Zac Robinson, maybe a veteran street free agent and perhaps a rookie to develop. Perhaps that rookie develops into a potential starter if Cincinnati elects not to re-sign Dalton after the 2014 season -- a prospect that may sound encouraging to some, but unlikely in the end.

Maybe that player can be Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron, some chew. If the point is to eventually replace Andy Dalton, then why select someone that has similar traits as him? That's the question asked that NFL media analyst Charles Casserly asks.

"Very productive quarterback, smart guy, but what I want to see (is) arm strength. I want to see this arm live. I just want to see at what level it's not strong. ... Is this guy Andy Dalton? I'm trying to make a positive out of that, but Dalton has his deficiencies, and one of them is accuracy, deep especially. Is he Andy Dalton, or is he a lesser Andy Dalton? That's my question on him."

If we're tightening our projections cap, Josh Johnson, who was a favorite of Jay Gruden, will have to make a resounding argument to stick around as the team's backup quarterback. He had stints of production during the preseason; but using that as a basis for one's potential production isn't a strong argument. He's wild and as turnover-prone as Dalton.

We have hard time seeing Robinson making the 53-man roster. Cincinnati prefers a veteran backup quarterback and a young quarterback developing through the practice squad (any play-caller drafted in the first three rounds would have a long-shot of clearing waivers to make the practice squad).

Either way, how the position plays out this offseason is one of significant interest.

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