Positives: Dalton has solid size for a QB, he has average arm strength, good accuracy inside of fifteen yards and solid zip on throws within that same range. He has some experience dropping back from center and executing play action fakes which I like to see, and he is good at quickly making reads after executing the fake. He also has a very good play fake, plus he has pretty good mobility. His footwork is solid, and he has a smooth throwing motion and pretty consistent mechanics. He was extremely productive at TCU, he won a lot of games there and really helped put their program back on the map.
Negatives: Dalton looks a little skinny to me on film, he rarely has great zip on his throws unless they are under ten yards, and he is very inconsistent with his accuracy outside of fifteen yards. The offense that he operated in was largely shotgun based, though he did drop from center occasionally and run play action, but the reads were not usually very complicated and frequently he would seem to know where he was going with the ball when he snapped it. His arm strength really does leave a lot to be desired in my opinion, especially on deep passes where not only does his lack of arm strength become apparent but his problems with ball placement when challenging defenses downfield become apparent also. He also makes very questionable decisions when he forces the ball downfield, and really is only accurate when he can throw the ball over the top of man coverage where he can float it and let his receiver run under it. Really outside of fifteen yards his ball placement just isn’t nearly as consistent and that is really alarming for a QB who is going to have to make throws like that in the NFL. I have also not seen him show a lot of anticipation on his throws, nor have I seen him throw guys open as much as I would like.
Overall: Dalton is a decent quarterback, but he isn’t someone I would pick in the first three rounds personally. His arm strength is average and while his accuracy on short passes and some intermediate passes is very good and he hits his receivers in stride when he challenges defenses downfield he has to put touch on his passes or he doesn’t place the ball well and that will lead to turnovers in the NFL. He seems to be pretty smart, hard working and doesn’t appear to have any character concerns so I think he will stick in the NFL, but primarily I think he will be a back-up and at best a solid game-manager type of quarterback. His arm strength and downfield accuracy is just too much to overcome to ever be a truly effective starter in my opinion.
Projection: 4th round. He may go a little bit earlier than this thanks to his reputation as a winner and as a very successful college quarterback, but I think most teams will be wary of his arm strength, his inconsistent decision making and his questionable downfield accuracy. He definitely has potential thanks to his solid size, average arm strength and quite reliable short passing accuracy, but improving on the longer, more difficult throws will be challenging once he makes it to the NFL.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Arm Strength: 2.5
Decision Making: 3.0
Pocket Awareness: 3.0
Thanks for reading my scouting report on Andy Dalton. As promised my reports on Julio Jones, Greg McElroy and Marcell Dareus are on the way.