This is part two of Cincyjungle's three part comprehensive look into the Bengals search for a new quarterback. It's a pretty safe bet that one of these eight quarterbacks will be wearing stripes next season. I plan on giving you every bit of information on these players that I can find. Hopefully together, we will figure out who's the best fit to carry this franchise into its next chapter.
In part one, we broke down the west coast offense and the abilities a quarterback must have in order to succeed. I also gave you an in-depth look at my quarterbacks 8-6.
8) Ricky Stanzi
6) Ryan Mallett
Today, we will see the next three quarterbacks (5-3). I have these three QBs very closely rated. It could really come down to who is available on draft day.
5) Andy Dalton - QB - TCU - 6'2" 215 lbs - 32" Arms - 9.5" Hands
Strengths: Dalton is known for being a winner and having a very productive college career. His numbers have steadily increased of his four years of starting at TCU. He is considered to be a smart QB with good leadership skills and overall intangibles. I really like Dalton's decision-making. He appears to have the ability to check and change plays in the TCU offense. He will get his team out of a bad situation by recognizing the opposing defense. Same goes for post-snap, Dalton can avoid the rush in the pocket and throw the ball where only his guy can catch it. In college, He was a solid running QB. His best attributes are his accuracy and touch. I really like his ball placement on almost every level throw, and his deep touch is surprisingly good for not having the strongest arm. He throws a good fade route and really protected the football in the red-zone. Dalton would be a good fit for the Bengals west coast offense where he can move and throw accurate short to intermediate passes.
Weaknesses: Andy Dalton's size is average at best, same with his overall athleticism. He comes from a spread offense, so naturally he will need to work on his drop-backs and progression reading. Arm strength is also only average. He can get the ball where it needs to be, but deep outs sometimes float on him. His accuracy is visibly worse when throwing deep or on the run. While he was a decent scrambler in college, Dalton sometimes doesn't feel the backside pressure and will get sacked because of it. When he does feel the pressure, Dalton does a poor job of keeping his eyes down field to look for an open receiver who might be breaking free. Also, being only 6-2 and having a three-quarters type of release, Dalton might be at a bigger risk to have passes batted down. He might be viewed as a player with limited pro potential by scouts and he might be labeled as a game manager type QB in the NFL. The biggest flaw with Dalton's game has to be his red hair. It's just not cool.
Final Analysis: Some people like him, some don't. I think it comes down to how much potential you think he has. I agree that it may be limited, but I think there's enough reason to think he can be a better pro quarterback. Work with his feet, get him stronger, work on pocket awareness and get him into a system that works for his skills. I think Dalton can be your starting QB in a year or two.
2010 Stats: 209 of 316 - 66.1%, 2,857 yards, 27 TDs 6 ints, 8 sacks
Other Notes: Bengals already have a visit scheduled with Andy Dalton
Games Watched: vs S.D. State 2010, vs UNLV 2010, vs Wisconsin 2010, Senior Bowl 2011
Projection: He could go as high as somewhere in the middle of round two or as low as the fourth round. Bengals have interest, possibly with their third round pick.
4) Christian Ponder - QB - Florida St - 6'2" 229 lbs - 32" Arms - 10" Hands
Strengths: Christian Ponder played in a pro style offense and has taken snaps under center. He is regarded as a smart QB with very good skills that will translate to the NFL. His drop-back is quick, tight and refined. He sets up quickly and has a short release that comes over the top. He's a better athlete than given credit for. Ponder can roll out to the left and right, while still making accurate throws. I wouldn't call him a scrambling QB by any means, but Ponder can work the pocket and step around defenders at his feet. I really like the way Ponder uses the middle of the field. I don't have stats to back me up here, but every time he threw down the middle, the pass seemed to always be on target with tremendous ball placement. In fact, any of Ponder's throws under 15 yards look very good. He has unique anticipation and great instincts that you usually only see with elite QB prospects. His arm strength has been called above average. He has enough strength to get the ball out on time on deep outs, posts and corners. Even with an injury history, Ponder will still stand in the pocket and take a hit. He has been called one of, if not the most NFL ready QB in this draft.
Weaknesses: Ponder's biggest question marks have to do with his inability to remain healthy. He couldn't finish the 2009 or 2010 season with different injuries to his throwing arm. His arm strength is only above average. Some deeper throws can get away from him and make his accuracy look worse. His spiral isn't tight when he tries to get extra velocity on the ball. The Seminole offense was built to take advantage of Ponder's skills, but I didn't see many deep outs and when he did go deep, it was usually after play-action. Ponder's build might be maxed out. So don't expect his arm strength to get any better with time. He really doesn't have many big flaws; it all comes down to his health. If he checked out medically, then there isn't much concern that would scare NFL teams away.
Final Analysis: Ponder has more strengths than flaws, but it all comes down to injury concerns and potential. He's my fourth rated QB because we don't know how healthy he can be. As Bengals followers, we have seen first hand how much past injury can affect a QB mentally and physically. Will Ponder be breaking down by the age of 28-30? Can you consider somebody a franchise QB with those concerns? Plus, I value potential more than some. Ponder is good and game ready now, but how high is his ceiling?
2010 Stats: 184 of 299 - 61.5%, 2,044 yards, 20 TDs 8 ints, 23 sacks
Other Notes: Ponder stood out at the Senior Bowl
Games Watched: vs UNC 2009, vs Florida 2010, vs Samford 2010, Senior Bowl
Projection: Everybody thinks Ponder is the best backup plan if you don't get Newton or Gabbert. So his value will really be increased once the top two QBs are selected. Teams will start planning their way back into the 1st round to select Ponder. I could see him going anywhere in the 1st round from picks 20-32.
3) Jake Locker - Washington - 6'2.5" 231 lbs - 31.5" Arms - 9.5" Hands
Strengths: Great athlete for the QB position. Jack Locker is one of the most mobile QBs and possesses one of the strongest arms in the draft. He's been known as a hard worker with the drive to get better. His balls have a tight spiral and great velocity. His release looks quick and compact. Locker can slide in the pocket to gain an extra second to throw. If the pressure becomes too great, Locker can usually feel it and take off running or break the pocket and look down field. When Locker breaks the pocket, he is as dangerous of a QB as I have seen. Throwing on the run has no ill effects on his accuracy or arm strength. He might actually be a better QB when scrambling. His vision is clear and he can make any throw from any angle or body position. I love Locker's toughness. He will play hurt and when he runs for yardage, he usually finishes fighting for the extra yard. He seems to be reliable late in games, either bringing his team back or at least putting them in position to win. To me, he looked to have a high football I.Q. when answering questions.
Weaknesses: Locker's biggest visible flaw is his inconsistent accuracy. People want to say he's inaccurate, but that isn't the case. It's more of a mental lapse. He misses a step in footwork or his base is too wide to make an accurate throw. Sometimes after his drop-back, Locker's step-up looks funny. He will be hunched over and I'm sure this hurts his vision. My biggest problem with Locker is his patience. I would like him to sit, go through his progressions, and then take off running when nobody is open. Instead, Locker will look at his first target and run. Maybe it's by design since he was such a weapon as a runner. Since I mentioned Ponder's injury history, it's only fair to tell you that Locker has missed his fair share of games for various injuries too.
Final Analysis: I like Locker as my third QB because of his upside. He's still developing as a quarterback and offers his best football ahead of him. Much like Jay Cutler, Locker's team in Washington wasn't very good. His line was poor and his targets were limited. So maybe his reckless play was just him trying to make a play. It's hard to project what offense would be good for Locker's strengths, but I think a team will work with him and build an offense that could take advantage of his unique talents.
2010 Stats: 184 of 332 - 55.4%, 2,265 yards, 17 TDs 9 ints, 19 sacks
Other Notes: Locker doesn't wax?
Games Watched: vs Arizona St 2009, vs Stanford 2009, vs Oregon St 2010, vs Nebraska 2010, Senior Bowl
Projection: I still think Locker has a very good chance to go in the first round. Some teams will like Ponder or possibly Mallett more, but I've seen people say that a total of five QBs could go in round one. Locker would be one of them for his upside.