AJ McCarron was rated higher than actual draft spot

Among the Day 3 surprises at the 2014 NFL Draft, college football fans undoubtedly would have placed Logan Thomas being drafted ahead of AJ McCarron near the top of the list. NFL.com certainly did.

Prior to the festivities at Radio City Music Hall earlier in the month, McCarron was one of the first names mentioned when analysts would discuss the second-tier of quarterbacks in the draft class. While such hype was a bit of hyperbole when it came to where some of those signal-callers were drafted (see Savage, Tom and Mettenberger, Zach), NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah banged the table for McCarron a little bit on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft."

"Yes, he should have been drafted earlier," Jeremiah said. "Looking at him talent-wise, he was in my top 50 for a while.

"He ended up dropping out of the top 50, but I thought he was a late-second-round, early-third-round talent when you stack him on the board."

McCarron wound up sliding back to the fifth round and the 164th overall pick. The Heisman Trophy runner-up a season ago, the quarterback had the best resume of any player at his position after winning two national titles at Alabama and leading the country in passing efficiency as a junior.

NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock ranked him 67th overall in the 2014 class, not too far behind first-rounder Teddy Bridgewater among quarterbacks.

McCarron was considered one of the few rookie signal-callers who could start early at the NFL level, but there were a number of reports about his attitude turning off teams that surfaced in the run-up to the draft. How much of that played a factor in his slide we won't really know, but it is certainly possible he was simply a casualty of an extremely deep positional draft.

"This is not unusual when we start dealing with quarterback roulette," NFL Media analyst Charles Davis said. "How many times have we seen highly ranked quarterbacks slide? Matt Barkley went into his senior year at USC as the perceived No. 1 pick in the entire draft and he ends up going in the fourth round.

"For AJ McCarron, he can carry the chip on his shoulder and use it as fuel to show how wrong they were. He has a chance to go to Cincinnati and sit behind Andy Dalton, who's almost in a make-it or break-it year because of his contract."

While that slide did end up costing McCarron some money in the short-term, there is little doubt he landed in a good situation with the Bengals. Given a potential divorce on the horizon with Dalton's contract situation up in the air, McCarron will have a year to prove to coaches he can be "the guy" under center for the team in the long run.

If he does that, you probably will hear plenty from fans complaining about how their team passed on McCarron in 2014.

Follow Bryan Fischer on Twitter @BryanDFischer.