With the 164th pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. This was a surprising fall for McCarron, who had a 2-3rd-round grade on him coming into the draft, but apparently was rubbing teams the wrong way in pre-draft interviews.
McCarron (6’3", 220 lbs) is accurate with the football in the short-to-intermediate route tree, and he has enough arm strength to produce at the NFL level in an offensive system like the Bengals have run under Jay Gruden, and he should do fine under new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
This past year at Alabama, McCarron set the Alabama record for passing yards after he completed 226 of 336 passes (67.3%) for 3,063 yards with 28 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions.
A brief excerpt of his NFL.co scouting report from Nolan Nawrocki:
Well-versed operating a pro-style offense and makes NFL-style progression reads. Is comfortable working from under center and in the gun. Mobile enough to sidestep the first wave. Good field vision, timing and anticipation. Very good short-to-intermediate accuracy (evidenced by a 66.9 percent career completion rate). Throws with accuracy on the move -- good wrist snap.
Delivers the ball under duress. Has enough arm strength to fit the ball into spots. Consistent throwing mechanics -- has a smooth stroke. Good caretaker and decision-maker. Mature leader. Smart and articulate. Highly competitive team leader -- holds teammates accountable. Very well-prepared. Directed back-to-back national championship offenses.
SB Nation's Matthew Fairburn compares McCarron to Minnesota Vikings QB Matt Cassell:
Like Cassell, McCarron can succeed when surrounded by a lot of talent and within a scheme that allows him to get rid of the ball quickly on simple timing routes. When asked to do too much, McCarron could turn into a turnover machine and be a detriment to the offense.
One player who the Bengals were strongly considering was Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who went one pick before them to the Kansas City Chiefs with 163rd-overall pick.
Because the Bengals traded their first pick in the sixth round (No. 199), they want pick again until pick No. 212, their first of two compensatory picks.