We aren’t always fair with the way we treat Andy Dalton. Now entering his 10th year in the NFL, Dalton is a good quarterback who has been very productive over the course of his career and led his team to some excellent seasons.
Dalton is No. 1 in Bengals’ history with 204 career touchdown passes. He sits behind only Kenny Anderson for the franchise record in passing yards.
He has had two 4,200+ yard seasons and threw a career-high 33 touchdown passes in one of them. He led the Bengals to the playoffs in each of his firs five seasons in the NFL and went to three Pro Bowls.
All of this from a second-round pick.
In 2011, Cam Newton went first overall. The Bengals needed a quarterback and held the 4th overall pick, but opted to take A.J. Green instead. Three more quarterbacks were taken within the next eight picks. They were Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder.
The Bengals waited for the 35th pick to select Dalton.
In retrospect, this was an incredible draft move. Instead of reaching for a quarterback in Round 1, they took an elite wide receiver who would be a big part of Dalton’s future success with the team.
Pretty savvy. In fact, if another team had made a move like this and gotten so much out of the quarterback, they would have been praised left and right. Obviously other teams viewed Locker, Gabbert, and Ponder as quarterbacks worthy of being selected top-12, but the Bengals were wise in their assessment of this trio.
Now don’t get me wrong. The Carolina Panthers would have been wrong to make a move like this. They took Newton first overall and he was their franchise quarterback until recently.
In 2020, Burrow is the equivalent of Newton, in that he is absolutely the right pick. It would be a huge mistake for the Bengals to draft Chase Young or (for a more apples to apples comparison to 2011) Jerry Jeudy and then select Jalen Hurts or Jake Fromm in the second.
Now, another team passing on Jacob Eason or Jordan Love in the first round and picking up Hurts or Fromm in the second round, is another story.
Given the situation in 2011, this was an underrated move that got the franchise back on track after going 4-12 with Carson Palmer at the helm the previous season. Unfortunately, as we all know, the Bengals were never able to get it done in the playoffs. Dalton was injured in 2015 and unable to finish what was on track to be his best season and where the Bengals had arguably their best roster in over 25 years.
Drafting Green and however Dalton should be seen as one of the better moves in franchise history.