NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 06: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals throws the ball during the NFL game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on November 6, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Bengals won 24-17. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
After ESPN's Ron Jaworski rated second year quarterback Andy Dalto number 19 on his QB countdown, John Clayton has followed suit. Clayton also put Dalton 19th on his rankings. Clayton put Dalton in what he calls "The Chad Pennington Division". Chad Pennington was a highly efficient quarterback, though he was never elite. He also did not have elite arm strength, another characteristic in common with Dalton. Clayton lists Dalton below Josh Freeman, Alex Smith, and Sam Bradford. He is ahead of Matt Cassel, Carson Palmer, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Mark Sanchez.. Clayton describes Dalton's arrow as "pointing up". Clayton also says of Dalton:
"Bengals fans blasted me last year for putting Dalton at the bottom of my ratings. Well, if the entire first round of teams pass on you, it's difficult to give a top grade. Dalton played like a Pro Bowler last year and jumped up 14 spots."
You will not see me blasting Clayton for ranking Dalton 19th. That is probably an accurate place to put him. Though I do think Dalton had a better season than Josh Freeman and Sam Bradford, for the ten games that Bradford was healthy. Clayton's statement about Bengals fans blasting him for putting Dalton at the bottom part of the rankings last year is fine. But he did not need to add in his justification for underrating Dalton. He made it seem as though the only good quarterbacks in the league are first round picks. While Dalton's lack of superior arm strength has netted him a fair share of detractors, his anticipatory skills far exceed most second year quarterbacks. If the receivers can run their routes correctly and the offensive line can give Dalton time to set his feet, Dalton will usually make the throw. If he can lead the Bengals to a remarkable second straight playoff birth, Dalton will likely join the top 15 next season.