Posting historical stats (and by historical we mean 2010) tends to help pass the time during the NFL lockout. Case in point, NFL.com rates the best third down passers in 2010, with Tom Brady predictably leading all quarterbacks with a passer rating of 119.3 on third downs. Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, Dallas' Jon Kitna, (formerly) Tennessee's Vince Young, Atlanta's Matt Ryan, New Orleans' Drew Brees, Philadelphia's Michael Vick and San Diego's Phillip Rivers rounds out the top eight.
Soon to be former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer posted a 72.6 passer rating on third downs, posting a 5.88 yard/average and a 54.6 percent completion rate in 2010. Palmer posted worst numbers on third down on virtually every passing category, compared to his performances on first and second down. Since what Palmer did in 2010 is increasingly irrelevant with his determination never to play for your Cincinnati Bengals again, let's take a look at what Andy Dalton did in college.
As most of you know, passer rating in college is different than the passer rating in the NFL. They use the same variables but weigh the scale differently. The example from Cold Hard Football Facts is that "the NFL awards 4.17 points per yard-per-attempt, while the NCAA awards 8.4 points." Plus the passer rating in college has no ceiling whereas in the NFL, the best rating quarterbacks can achieve is 158.3.
That beings said, let's take Andy Dalton's college numbers and translate that into the NFL formula to determine his third down passer rating.
There's varying arguments that could surface from this. For instance, Dalton will have improved wide receiver talent to play with and a rushing offense that, at least at one point, can reduce the pressure of passing the football by making third down situations more manageable. Then again the pass rush in the NFL is twice as fast and he'll be facing the best secondary he's ever faced -- think facing the very best from college every week.
But the key factor here is that Dalton's passer rating on third downs his senior season should weigh the heaviest. That was his most recent work, when he was most refined in college and the quarterback joining the Bengals in 2011.