Is Andy Dalton the sleeper of the 2011 NFL Draft? We think so.
[table "36" not found /]
Accuracy: Dalton’s strength as a passer is his accuracy. He consistently places the ball in an area that only his receiver can make the catch. Does a great job leading the receiver and giving him room to run after the catch. During his Pro Day workout Dalton showed excellent accuracy to every area of the field. There are questions about his deep accuracy, largely related to arm strength. He will get a little high throwing outside but this can be corrected with better timing coming out under center. Dalton has NFL-ready accuracy.
Arm strength: There are questions about his ability to push the ball up-field. Threw passes of 60-yards in the air during Pro Day, but this was in shorts and without wind. Dalton will not be a big-arm quarterback in a vertical system. He has the arm strength to throw go routes and out patterns but relies more on timing to make his throws. The ball will float down the seam too often. Dalton has the strength to throw with zip and get the ball between defenders. As a West Coast Offense passer he would excel due to his ability to fit the ball in tight spaces on short and intermediate routes. Despite not having the strongest arm he does show nice touch on deep balls.
Athleticism/mobility: Dalton performed very well as a runner during his TCU career. He has experience running a zone option and also as a shotgun passer who was given the green light to run if needed. Against Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl the Horned Frogs featured Dalton’s rushing ability to throw-off the aggressive Badgers defensive line. Dalton totaled 1,611 rushing yards and 22 scores on the ground in his four years as a starter. Has shown the ability to make throws moving left and right out of the pocket.
Decision making: As a catch-and-throw passer from the shotgun Dalton is not often asked to make post-snap reads. He will struggle at times if his primary is covered but really improved in this area as a senior. Will lock on to a receiver too often. Threw only six interceptions in 2010 compared with 27 touchdowns.
Field vision: Has benefited from a shotgun system. Will need to adjust to playing under center. Has the required height to see over his linemen. Does show the ability to get outside the pocket to improve his vision down field if needed.
Mechanics: Has a strong over-the-top delivery. Good follow through. Has solid footwork on delivery and follow through. Keeps the ball high and does not let it drop, even when moving in the pocket. Throws from his shoulder and doesn’t drop the nose of the ball. Has a quick and compact release.
Pocket awareness/poise: A four-year starter for TCU, Dalton is a poised and tough leader who teammates will follow. Has won three Most Valuable Player awards in four Bowl Game appearances at TCU. Dalton does not get rattled in the pocket and can use his mobility to escape if the pocket breaks down. Has a calm about himself in the pocket and is not afraid to stand in until the last minute and take a big hit.
Final word: Andy Dalton leaves TCU as one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the team’s long history. At the college level he has done everything you could ask of a quarterback. Entering the NFL there are questions about Dalton’s arm strength and his “up-side”. Many see Dalton and too quickly write him off as a product of a spread system who will not develop farther in the NFL. When we look at Andy Dalton we see Drew Brees.
Dalton, like Brees, is slightly undersized and leaves a spread college system that hid his lack of a rocket arm. Brees and Dalton were both given 2nd Round grades by most draft experts.
We see a bright future for Andy Dalton if he is drafted in to the right system. Dalton will excel in a spread or West Coast offense. This makes Seattle, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Minnesota possible destinations for him in Round 2.