One of my favorite prospects coming out of the 2011 NFL Draft was TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. He was somewhat overlooked on a Horned Frog team that was known for their defense, but throughout his final season there showed a lot of poise in big games and looked like he could develop into a solid quarterback at the professional level.
After two seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, Dalton has proved many of his original critics wrong and I have liked what I’ve seen so far. The 25 year-old quarterback has led his team to the playoffs in his first two years and has thrown for over 7,000 yards in the process.
The big criticism early on for Dalton is his inability to win a playoff game in his first two attempts. While it was fairly improbable for the Bengals to pull out a win against the Houston Texans two years in a row, Dalton’s performances have been well under expectations.
In his first playoff appearance, Dalton threw for 257 yards and three interceptions on his way to a 51.4 quarterback rating and a loss. Last season, he only threw one pick but finished with only 127 yards passing and an even lower rating of 44.7.
In 2013, the Bengals have even higher expectations as they have improved offensively by adding star-studded Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, arguably a top-10 prospect in this year’s draft. With Dalton a year older, and hopefully a year wiser, he has to get it done in the postseason — assuming they make it that far.
Dalton is set up for success with both Eifert and his favorite target A.J. Green, as well as a versatile running back in BenJarvis Green-Ellis. He’s got one of the better defenses in the NFL behind him and should be poised for his best season yet next year. Will he live up to his expectations?