If you want a proven winner who’s had his fair share of success at the college level, look no further than Andy Dalton. With a great head on his shoulders and an outstanding arm attached to them as well, he’s a more than capable NFL quarterback who could be one of the most NFL-ready to come out of this year’s draft. He spent his college years throwing out of the shotgun, so he will need some work with his reads, but he has the arm to make all of the NFL throws and has proven that he’s able to step into an offense right away due to his maturity and ability to learn on the fly. Although there are plenty of areas that will need improvement, his track record should give teams reason to believe that improving won’t be an issue for him at the next level. I project him as an early-to-mid second round selection.
Dalton is a smart, savvy passer who has terrific game management skills and is a proven winner and leader. The fact that he played in a spread offense, much like several of the quarterbacks in this class, doesn’t help his case as an NFL quarterback. He will need to learn to drop back in the pocket while making reads and not hone in on his first option, as he did numerous times at TCU. His biggest challenge at the next level will be whether or not he can adjust to making reads and decisions while dropping back from under center. When he’s under pressure, he has shown the awareness to get rid of the ball instead of forcing an errant pass or taking a sack. His decision making is bolstered by the fact that he did a good job of avoiding interceptions throughout his career as a Horned Frog.
Although I wouldn’t exactly classify his arm as a cannon, he definitely has the arm strength to make just about every NFL throw. Whether he’s throwing short passes or deep routes down the sideline, he typical does a good job of gauging the strength he needs and adjusting according to the route. He possesses the arm strength to dart the ball to the sideline, squeeze it into a tight window, or heave it 40 yards downfield. Much like his accuracy, he has a tendency to misjudge the amount of strength needed behind his throws when the play breaks down or he starts to feel pressure. He will miss crossing routes on occasion, due in large part to unnecessarily trying to bullet the ball into the receiver. He also can miss on deep routes from time to time, not putting enough strength behind the pass and allowing the defender to make a play on the sailing ball.
When he has time to set his feet and throw, his accuracy is above average. He displays a good mix of arm strength and accuracy that allows him to usually hit his receivers in stride and can squeeze the ball into tight windows. When throwing down the field, displays enough touch and finesse to put the ball on the mark. On out routes, he again uses that outstanding mix of strength and accuracy to put the ball on target by driving off of his back foot and does a good job of putting where only his receiver can catch it. When he’s outside the pocket and on the run, he does a good job of squaring his shoulders and making accurate passes. His accuracy breaks down, however, when his mechanics do. When the play breaks down and he’s forced to make hasty throws, his mechanics break down which often leads to poor throws. If he can learn to keep his calm and not get rushed into his throws, his accuracy should only continue to improve.
When he has the time to stand in the pocket and make throws, his mechanics are up to par. He has good footwork, moves in the pocket well in order to buy himself more time, and steps into throws with efficiency. When he’s under pressure or is starting to panic because his number one target is covered, his mechanics break down. Considering that he came out of a spread offense and never had to drop back from center, he will need to work on getting used to dropping back in order to make it a natural thing.
Dalton isn’t a phenomenal athlete, but he does have enough athleticism and speed to make plays with his feet. Whether it’s buying time in the pocket or escaping pressure and moving the chains on the ground, he does a good job of reading the defense and running to the open spot. Despite some decent mobility, he is a bit undersized and will need to avoid taking hits when he does escape the pocket. On the random occasion that he does decide to tuck the ball and run, he needs to do a better job of sliding to avoid big hits and making better decisions, especially at the NFL level. Due to his whatever-it-takes-to-win attitude, he will sell out when he scrambles and does a good job of fighting for extra yardage.
Although his release is quick, he doesn’t have the over-the-top release that many teams look for in a young quarterback. He holds the ball at the proper height which allows for the quick release, but needs to work on having the ball come out of his hands at a higher point to avoid balls being batted down. Especially considering he’s only 6’2’’, his three-quarters release could become an issue in the NFL if there isn’t some sort of improvement on the height of his release.
Dalton is a leader on and off the field, has made improvements in his technique and statistics every season, and has no character concerns. Is a proven winner, considering that he only lost three games during his time as the starting quarterback for the Horned Frogs. The turning point in his career as an NFL prospect came against the Wisconsin Badgers in the 2011 Rose Bowl, when he displayed tremendous composure and play-making ability to help lead his team to a victory against one of the toughest teams they played during his team as their quarterback. Despite an elbow injury against New Mexico in 2010, he still battled back to play in the Rose Bowl.
2010: Started in 13 of 13 games.
2009: Started in 13 of 13 games.
2008: Started in 11 of 13 games. Missed the other two games due to injury.
2007: Started in 13 of 13 games.
Majored in Marketing at TCU.
Awards & Honors
2010: First-Team All-Mountain West; Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year; Manning Award Finalist; Johnny Unitas Award Finalist; Purple Wimple Player of the Year; Rose Bowl MVP
2009: First-Team All-Mountain West; Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year; Manning Award Finalist; All-American Honors (Sports Illustrated, CollegeFootballNews.com); Award of Distinction from the Touchdown Club of Columbus; Received votes in Heisman Trophy balloting
2008: Honorable Mention All-Mountain West; Poinsettia Bowl MVP
2007: Honorable Mention Freshman All-American (Sporting News); Texas Bowl
Prospect Video Clips
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