Andy Dalton capped a dynamic season, and career, at TCU with a 21-19 win over consensus favorite Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. Despite the high win totals, and great statistical performances, Dalton hasn’t gotten quite the attention nationally as some of the top tier quarterbacks. I’ve looked back over the last three years of film I have on Dalton, and here’s what I observed.
Size: At 6’2″ 213, Dalton may be a shade short for the NFL. He’s definitely pushing the bottom of the size window from a height perspective, and at his Senior Bowl weigh in seemed a bit thin in the torso. He’ll need to put on weight to withstand the repeated hits he’s going to take in the NFL.
Arm Strength: While Dalton’s arm strength is hardly the stuff of legend, he certainly has the requisite strength to make all the NFL throws, including the “Deep Out.” He has better than average velocity on his throws, and spins a clean football. Arm strength will not be an issue at the NFL level.
Accuracy: Dalton’s accuracy and ball placement are well above average for a college player. He does a good job locating the best spot to place the ball where only his receiver can get it. Dalton had a 71-30 TD to interception ratio; and the bulk of those came his Freshman year. His accuracy and ball placement are the strength of his game.
Mechanical: Dalton has an odd 3/4 release, which may cause him some trouble with passes being tipped at the line at the NFL level. However, the 3/4 release of Phillip Rivers hasn’t adversely affected him at the NFL level. Since he comes from a spread system, there weren’t a lot of under center reps to watch, He’ll definitely have to spend some time learning his drops. His release point varies when he’s throwing on the run, this causes some of his passes to sail a bit.
Mobility: Dalton possesses quick feet, and can extend the play with his feet. He won’t be a “dual threat” guy at the NFL level, but he’ll be able to pick up positive yardage when needed. His mobility is an underrated part of his game.
Pre/Post Snap Reads: Post snap Dalton seems to diagnose coverage very well. He will lock on to receivers too long (a by-product, I think, of his great pump fake), and has the tendency to drop his eye level and take off, perhaps more quickly than he should.
Intangibles: The first thing you hear when people describe Dalton, is “winner.” Dalton went 42-3 as a starter at TCU. He is described by teammates as “a motivator” in the huddle, and “an energetic leader” on the field. He possesses an outstanding pump fake, and a quick release.
Character: By all accounts Dalton is a clean kid, with high moral fiber. He is consistently called a leader in the locker room, and on the field by his teammates and coaches, we have been unable to find a single hint of a character concern regarding Dalton.
Dalton definitely brings a multi dimensional versatility to the game, but does he bring it at a high enough level to be an NFL starter? I think he’s a short term project (but then, so many quarterbacks in this draft are), who would do well taking over on a team with a defensive identity and a strong running game. He seems more like that perfect type of game manager, who isn’t going to turn the ball over, and put your team at risk. I would have no problem using an early second round pick on him.