Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) celebrates following a touchdown run by running back Derrick Henry (not pictured) during the third quarter of a game against the Oklahoma Sooners at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Who Will Draft AJ McCarron?

Most NFL Draft experts rank former Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron behind the likes of Johnny Manziel (Texas A&M), Blake Bortles (Central Florida), Teddy Bridgewater (Louisville) and depending on who you ask, a few more.

An NFL team likely won’t draft McCarron with the intention of making him their starter for the 2014 season. However, sitting behind another QB for a year or two may be the best situation for the former star of the Crimson Tide. It will give him the time he needs to learn plays and make the transition into the next level that much easier.

Some teams draft rookie quarterbacks to make immediate impacts, and more often than not, they end up getting lost in the system. If McCarron can take on the role as second string behind a veteran, it will increase his chances of success in the NFL.

There are quite a few teams that need to fulfill this role. Some have solid QBs, while others have temporary fixes. And then there are the desperate among us: The Texans, Jags, Raiders and Vikings.

It’s not likely that AJ will end up in Houston, Jacksonville or Oakland, simply based on the quarterback rankings and their draft order. If it’s a scramble to grab a quarterback in the first round – which it very well may be considering the Texans are up first – McCarron will be left as an option for another team later on.

So, who will take a stab at the Alabama standout?

The two places McCarron is needed most are Minnesota and Cleveland.

The Vikings have once again signed Matt Cassel, but this is a far from promising situation for the purple and gold. And it’s clear that no one on the roster has the ability to carry this franchise into the future. Ponder that.

The Browns have shown little interest in any quarterback entering the draft, which points in the direction that they will choose a different position with both first round picks. Unless an unknown problem arises, Hoyer will be named the starter, given his success last season before his knee injury. However, Cleveland needs a stronger back up than Alex Tanney, in case the unexpected becomes reality.

There are rumors that the Browns are interested in Texans QB Matt Schaub, which would ensure a rookie like McCarron at least a year to sit. Even if Schaub doesn’t end up in Cleveland, there is the chance that Hoyer can stay healthy all season, giving the next QB time to develop.

If both teams pass on McCarron, several others have spots he can easily fill.

The Bengals currently run their offense under the reigns of Andy Dalton. However, not many fans are convinced that he has what it takes to lead their team to a Super Bowl. If Cincinnati likes what they see from McCarron, he could easily take the second spot and turn it into a big opportunity.

The Cowboys are in need of young talent in this position. Tony Romo has caused even the most dedicated Dallas fans concern, but is a shoo-in for the 2014 season. However, with Orton and Kitna on the bench, Jerry Jones is praying that Romo doesn’t break another pinky, rib or clavicle. Having a stronger option as back up would ease Cowboy Nation if the worst should happen.

The Bears, Falcons and Cardinals all have strong veteran QBs, but unknown or weak talent behind them. These are teams who could draft a rookie in 2014 and take the much needed time to develop him, similarly to Green Bay’s development of Aaron Rodgers. That turned out pretty well.

With free agency still in the mix, anything can happen. But with McCarron’s physical talent, brilliant football mind and extraordinary character, he will be the steal of the draft.

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