The amount of white noise surrounding the Bengals’ selection of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has not been unlike a car alarm in a large parking lot – at first, it commands attention, but one quickly finds it impossible to discern intent and direction, leaving its continuing sound nothing short of an annoyance. In a preparatory response to this slew of speculative controversy, Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson stated,
Again, [selecting McCarron] is not about Andy Dalton. This is really about improving the room… 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.”
McCarron will certainly have to compete, though not against Andy Dalton as most believe is the case. Jason Campbell is the strongest backup quarterback that the Bengals have put behind Dalton since being drafted in 2011. Despite an injury-littered career, Campbell himself was a first-round quarterback in 2005, and over his eight seasons in the NFL he has a career completion percentage of 60.3% and a QBR of 81.8, both of which are only slightly less than Dalton (60.9% and 85.7 QBR). Additionally, since Dalton has been the starter in Cincinnati, the Bengals have only selected two quarterbacks to their final 53-man roster. In short, McCarron has to prove that he will offer more for “the room” than Campbell before he can be considered to make a play for a starting job.
Interesting fun fact: the last time the Bengals selected a quarterback not named Andy Dalton was in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. Jeff Rowe played the season as the third string quarterback behind Carson Palmer and Ryan Fitzpatrick; he never saw the field. After being signed off the Bengal’s practice squad in 2008 by Seattle, Rowe played briefly with New England until being waived in 2010, effectively ending his NFL career.