CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 02: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws a pass during the NFL game against the Buffalo Bills at Paul Brown Stadium on October 2, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals won 23-20. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
On Thursday, we posted that ESPN's Ron Jaworski was releasing his list of ranked NFL quarterbacks, pretty much one player at a time. Former Bengals and current Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer came in on the list at No.21 overall, making the trade for the disgruntled quarterback seem like an even better deal for Cincinnati than previously thought.
"Jaws" recently released his ranking (via Jamison Hensley of ESPN) on current Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, and his ranking should give Bengals fans more reason to smile, as he's ranked a couple of spots ahead of Palmer at No.19. While Hensley is correct in deeming Dalton's ranking as a "fair assessment", one must also point to his Pro Bowl appearance in 2011. Even while appearing in the game as an alternate becoming a Pro Bowler, one could also say that his performance through his very short career pitted him within the top-ten quarterbacks in the NFL in 2011.
But, I digress.
Of Dalton's abilities, Jaworski said:
"The more I evaluated Dalton, the more I liked him," Jaworski said. "He does have some arm strength limitations, but he compensates very well with his anticipation and his accuracy. That was particularly evident in the red zone. And that is an absolutely critical measure of a quarterback. The numbers were exceptional: 15 touchdowns, no interceptions. Dalton was very effective in the boot action pass game. He did that well at TCU, and his ability to throw accurately on the run transitioned well to the NFL."
Again with the arm strength. It's a good thing that Dalton has made an offseason commitment to bbuilding his upper body strength and focusing on improving his deep ball game then, right? The red zone numbers that "Jaws" points to are often overlooked and are indeed "exceptional". Palmer, his predecessor, wasn't nearly as efficient in this area of the field in recent years. If Dalton wants to continue his success in his second year, he will need to continue this efficient trend.
"What must supplement anticipation is pinpoint ball location," Jaworski said. "Dalton was consistently accurate in the short to intermediate areas. He put the ball right in his receiver's hands. As my good friend quarterback coach Terry Shea says, he hits the strike point. Remember, it is the quarterback who is most responsible for run after catch."
Jaworski added, "Overall, Dalton threw with great touch. What also stood out was his willingness to look down the gun barrel, to deliver the football in the face of pressure. You have to do that in the NFL. You will get hit. You still have to make the throws."
"As I look ahead to the 2012 season, I expect Dalton to improve," Jaworski said. "The pass game concepts of offensive coordinator Jay Gruden mesh perfectly with Dalton's skill set. I would not be surprised if a year from now Dalton is approaching my top 10. He has a chance to make that kind of jump in one season."
Are we seeing a pattern with these compliments here? A lot of these are attributes that Palmer didn't exude his last few years in Cincinnati--particularly the willingness to deliver a solid throw in the face of pressure. What's great for Bengals fans here is the "upside" and "potential" that Jaworski points to with Dalton. Many are worried how close Dalton is to his ceiling as an NFL quarterback and while he may be closer to it than many other second-year quarterbacks have been over the years, there is still ample room for him to improve and grow.
As I mentioned earlier, one could argue that this is a bit low for Dalton's ranking, but if there's a positive to take here, it's that Dalton's future as an NFL quarterback is definitely seeming to be heading up.