Wednesday, March 30, 2011

2011 NFL Draft: Could TCU's Andy Dalton Be the Surprise of the Draft?

For the TCU fans who have watched quarterback Andy Dalton, they know there's more to him than most of the college football world cared to see for themselves.

They were too busy watching the likes of Auburn's Cam Newton, Arkansas' Ryan Mallett, Washington's Jake Locker, and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.

Though Dalton started all four years at TCU, his final three seasons is what the fans will remember him for. He led the Horned Frogs to a combined record of 36-3 over his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. Wrapping up his final year in purple and white with a perfect 13-0 record and a Rose Bowl win over the Wisconsin Badgers.

What a better way to wrap up your college career.

Now, with the NFL Draft bearing down on him, he's gone from one of the top college quarterbacks in the country to a guy who seems to be lost in the spotlight of the other so-called "stars."

There's been talk about Mallett being the number one overall while others think Gabbert will be the man going No. 1 to the Carolina Panthers.

While you watch for that first pick with anticipation, keep your eyes focused closely on the young man from Katy, Texas. You may be surprised when his name is called before some other names you thought for sure would be already off the board.

He's not your prototypical NFL quarterback and a guy you would call the next "face of the franchise," but his name seems to be gaining strength over the last few weeks. If this continues, we might actually see Dalton as the third or fourth quarterback taken in the draft.

GASP! What did he say?

You heard me right. After Gabbert and Newton leave the board before the 10th pick is called, it won't be Mallett or Locker who will be up next. It will be TCU's own, Andy Dalton.

In 2010, Dalton set career numbers in completion percentage (66.1), total passing yards (2,857), touchdowns (28), and yards per game (219.8) which included an astounding 355 yard 3 touchdown performance against Utah when the Utes were ranked in the top five.

There are certain quarterbacks NFL teams will take chances on. Most of the time, they are guys who weren't the biggest stars in college but put up numbers that made believers of just about every scout who came across this young man.

We can talk about the teams TCU did or didn't play and you can try to argue with me that anyone who plays outside of the SEC and Big Ten isn't ready to play at the next level. If you want to use that argument, you're more than welcome to. I just think someone forgot to tell former LSU quarterback, JaMarcus Russell.

I'm nto the only one who believes Dalton will be off the board before the first round comes to an end. Former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer gave his guarantee Dalton would be off the board in the first round. draft analyst Tony Pauline also weighed in on Dalton saying he'd be off the board before the 40th overall pick came around.

He's been compared by some to Green Bay Packers' quarterback, and Super Bowl Champion, Aaron Rodgers who was someone most didn't see anything in when he came out of Cal.

Whatever your take is on the quarterback out of TCU, it seems he's not only passed Mallett but could be gaining on Newton and Gabbert as well.

Ok, maybe that's stretching it a tad too much.

Still, Dalton could absolutely be the surprise of the NFL Draft next month. Not only that, he could surprise his future teammates by challenging for the starting job in 2011. Unless of course the NFL can't find a reason to play any of their games this season.

Follow Todd Kaufmann @T_Kaufmann on Twitter or find him on Facebook

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