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NFL Draft: Bengals get B- for picking Alabama's AJ McCarron in 5th round

By Josh Katzowitz | NFL Writer

Draft coverage: Draft picks and grades | Prospect Rankings | Mock drafts | News

NEW YORK -- The last University of Alabama quarterback to have any kind of success in the NFL was probably Jeff Rutledge, drafted in 1979 and who had a long career mostly as a backup.

Now AJ McCarron, drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the NFL draft (No. 164 overall) on Saturday, gets his chance to show that he can join former Crimson Tide sensations like Bart Starr and Joe Namath in becoming a bonafide NFL quarterback.

Bengals fans may not think that's the case though.

As far as becoming a starter right away, though, that's probably not going to happen. Though Andy Dalton hasn't led Cincinnati to a playoff win, he's still on track to land a large second contract with the Bengals sometime this year. But if not -- or, if he stumbles in his fourth season as a pro -- it'll be interesting to see if McCarron can challenge Dalton for the starting job..

Even if the Bengals newest quarterback is similar to their current quarterback.

McCarron wasn't one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the draft, and unlike players like Derek Carr and Tom Savage, McCarron's draft stock never seemed to rise higher than about the third round. Strangely, McCarron said that the NFL people to whom he had talked had told him that he had been given a first-round draft by a number of teams.

Obviously, that information was incorrect. And he tweeted out his displeasure during the fourth round on Saturday.

But now McCarron gets his chance anyway after being picked one slot behind fellow SEC QB Aaron Murray.

It's certainly hard to criticize his college career. He went 36-4 as a starter, and he helped lead Alabama to back-to-back national titles. But there are questions about his arm strength, and observers wonder if he's too quick to abandon his reads.

As NFLDraftScout.com wrote, "A proven winner, McCarron won't make a lot of mistakes, but he can also be underwhelming as a passer and projects as a borderline NFL starter -- too good to be a back-up, but not quite starting material either."

Dalton took to Twitter Saturday to welcome McCarron to the team.

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