Eight quarterbacks were selected ahead of McCarron, including five in the first three rounds. McCarron was selected 164th overall, one pick after Georgia's Aaron Murray was picked by the Kansas City Chiefs.
"I'm confident in myself, but at the same time I know Andy (Dalton) is the QB up there. And I respect that," McCarron said. "All I want to do is go in and help us in whatever way I can. If that means me holding the clipboard for a couple of years and giving Andy reports during the week, or watching film with him and helping him out in any way I can. I'm just ready to do it. I'm excited about this opportunity, and I just can't wait to get up there and get to work."
Dalton took to Twitter to welcome McCarron to Cincinnati:
- Andy Dalton (@andydalton14) May 10, 2014
Later, McCarron also took to Twitter to express his excitement:
- AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) May 10, 2014
Dalton has led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his three seasons, but the team has lost in the wild-card round each time.
Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said Dalton remains the starter.
"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."
When asked in early March if he considered himself the best quarterback in the draft, McCarron's response was simply, "Why not?"
With two national championships and a slew of passing records under his belt from his three years as a starter at Alabama, McCarron felt like the furthest thing from a second-tier prospect.
Bengals quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese said McCarron has a strong football IQ.
"I love how he carries himself, the enthusiasm for the game, the work ethic," Zampese said. "You know he's tough, playing for (Alabama coach Nick) Saban down there and being in so many big games. He's played with pro players every year he's been down there, so hopefully this next step for him -- it will be big -- but he's been playing with some guys that are pretty good, too."
Despite all the success he had in college, McCarron viewed himself as underrated and underappreciated. The 6-foot-4, 214-pound Mobile, Ala., native threw for 9,019 yards, 77 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his four years with the Tide.
Even with those gaudy numbers, there have been questions over his talent and how it translates to the next level.
Information from ESPN.com Bengals reporter Coley Harvey and ESPN.com's Alex Scarborough was used in this report.