In the fifth round, the Cincinnati Bengals selected what has become one of the more controversial picks of the entire NFL draft. With the 164th overall selection, AJ McCarron found himself the latest player to see stripes in his future.
However, the problems that some fans and pundits may see with this addition to the Bengals locker room is that Andy Dalton is currently in contract talks with a "significant" offer, and frankly, there has been a lot of discussion regarding whether Dalton is the quarterback of the long-term future amid changes to the coaching staff. The contract discussions may have an impact on what route the Bengals decide to take in this situation.
In all likelihood, Dalton will remain the starting quarterback for at least the next few years, as the Bengals have a reputation for picking the best player available on the board, siding with value over need. In the fifth round, normally teams begin to take on project players, and those they believe they can groom into solid backups.
Cincinnati's selection of McCarron gives them much-needed depth at the quarterback position, and it never hurts to have a player that won two championships with Alabama under his belt, waiting to be called upon.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson had a few words to say about the impending controversy over the pick.
"Again, this is not about Andy Dalton," Jackson said. "This is really about improving the room. Obviously, AJ was on our board and again, we kind of hold true to our board. He's a tremendous football player, he played in a lot of big games at Alabama, we have a lot of respect for his talent, his ability and again, our whole thing here in Cincinnati is trying to improve everywhere that we can. We're adding another good football player to an already talented room and going to let guys compete."
Jackson confirms that Cincinnati targets value picks, and touches on the idea of placing competition into the locker room. This was a strong pick for the Bengals, because even if McCarron doesn't see much playing time in the next few years, the coaching staff can rest assured that they already have one of the best backup in the league, fresh out of college. And the worst case scenario for Dalton is that the selection breeds a bit of competition.
Looking at the last three playoff games, that could be just what the doctor ordered.