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Jay Gruden: Dalton's Arm is Not Weak

When it comes to the quarterback position in the NFL, it seems that three things are necessary to be successful: the intangibles, accuracy and a strong arm. When the Cincinnati Bengals went on the clock in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft, they basically had two options at quarterback, TCU's Andy Dalton and Arkansas' Ryan Mallett. Mallett has the accuracy and he certainly has a cannon for an arm but there were concerns about his leadership skills and his maturity. Dalton was accurate and has all the intangibles that you would want in your future quarterback, but some were concerned with the strength of his arm. They drafted Dalton.

The Bengals new offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden has been busy watching tape of his new players since he can't talk to them or watch them on a field. His west coast system will be filled with plays requiring a quarterback to throw short and intermediate passes. He's come to the conclusion, though, after watching hours of tape, that Dalton has plenty of arm strength to throw any pass asked of him.

"He doesn’t take a lot of effort to throw the deeper routes. It's not like he has to hitch and jump in the air to throw because his arm is weak," Gruden says. "This is 32, 35 yards and it's a dart. Watch how effortlessly he throws it. Play-action to his left, bam, he doesn't over-stride. It’s a quick release. It's not like me. I'd have to hitch, wind up, and drop the ball down to my hip."

The biggest reason that Dalton was so high on the Bengals' big board was because he's a winner and he's a natural leader. But there were other reasons too. Dalton's skill set seemed to make him a perfect candidate to run a west coast system. However, it seems, at least to Gruden, that Dalton wouldn't have to be confined to a west coast system.

"This is what sold me on his arm strength," Gruden says. "I want you to watch his demeanor and his body while he's throwing it. There's no strain. That's 59 yards off play-action. Nothing. The body stays right there."

A 59-yard pass is plenty long enough to play in any system, including Bob Bratkowski's old down-field system. I seem to remember scouts and analysts questioning Drew Brees' arm strength when he was coming into the NFL. I think he's shown all of us otherwise, though. Dalton could easily prove that his arm is more than adequate as well.

Unfortunately we won't be able to see how strong Dalton's arm really is until the season starts, but until that time comes, I'm more than willing to take Gruden's word for it.