Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his grand list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. See his page for earlier ranked quarterbacks. Up next: number 18.
#18. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton blossomed onto the scene as a rookie in 2011. In back to back years, he’s led the Bengals to the postseason, only to lose in the Wild Card round to Houston both times. Several experts are predicting that 2013 may be Dalton’s last year as a starter, but with the way he’s led the team and was able to get his team through tough situations, I don’t believe that will be the case.
Dalton is Cincinnati’s guy. This doesn’t mean he has nothing to work on in the offseason, because everyone does. His job will be secure, and his team looks like the strongest in the AFC North with Baltimore losing several key pieces – Ray Lewis, Dannell Ellerbe, Ed Reed, Paul Kruger, Dennis Pitta, to name a few. Dalton will get his opportunities this year, and he’ll receive plenty of help from star wideout A.J. Green and rookie tight end Tyler Eifert. This could be Dalton’s breakout year.
Physical traits and athleticism
At 6-2, some may consider Dalton as an undersized quarterback. When guys like Russell Wilson and Drew Brees can have great success at 6-0 or under, 6-2 is perfectly satisfactory. Dalton is a pocket quarterback, but utilizes play-action bootleg rollouts well, proving his mobility to be an asset. Grade: 7/10
One of the knocks on Dalton coming out of the draft was that he did not possess great zip or strength on his throws. Although it can be said that he doesn’t have the strongest arm, he effectively uses excellent pocket vision, anticipation, awareness, and touch to compensate for that. I’ve seen reports that he has been working to improve his arm strength, though. Grade: 7/10
Dalton’s footwork in the pocket is on point; he often sets his feet even under pressure and delivers an accurate pass. Some of his passes get knocked down at the line of scrimmage because of a lower release point, but the ball is still accurate and he hits his receiver in perfect stride. He also has a good touch throw – the fades to A.J. Green are almost unstoppable. Grade: 7.5/10
Dalton is a smart quarterback who’s constantly improving. He came into the league starting right away, and picked up Cincinnati’s offensive scheme easily. He can recognize blitzes efficiently and make audibles (I remember an ESPN Sports Science film that proved Dalton has the loudest voice of all quarterbacks). He’s done a tremendous job staying healthy, starting all 34 games (including playoffs) in his career. Grade: 8/10
Dalton is an unquestioned leader of the team He takes charge in the huddle and clearly knows exactly what’s going on around him. There are several physical and mental things he can fix, and he knows that. He’ll be hitting the film room and attempting to gel with a plethora of offensive weapons this offseason. Grade: 8/10
Andy Dalton has already proved to be a quality starter in the NFL. What more do the Bengals expect over two seasons? Dalton has all the pieces in place on his team to separate himself and place himself among the league’s top young signal-callers in 2013.Overall Grade: 37.5/50