Emo Andy is Emo.
Before I start pecking away on this here keyboard for the next few thousand words, I think we need to take a minute and reflect on the past few months in regards to Andy Dalton: In the history of the NFL Draft, has one prospect ever made the kind of late in the game charge up draft boards as Red? Seriously, think about it. One year ago today, we loved Dalton when no one else did. Dalton was considered a "game manager" and, following the Fiesta Bowl, a guy who just wasn't ready to lead the team over the top. They laughed when we launched our AD for Heisman site. They laughed when I cancelled my membership to Texas Monthly for neglecting to include Dalton in their feature on Texas Quarterbacks. They laughed when we said Dalton was going to lead us to another undefeated season, except this time we'd hit 13. But, as much as we knew Dalton was THE guy, did we really expect this? If you can name one person, no matter how homerific, who thought Dalton was more than a mid-tier, third round at best NFL prospect one year ago today, then I've got a shiny nickel with your name on it. Hell, if you can name one person, no matter how homerific, who thought Dalton was more than a mid-tier, third round at best NFL prospect SIX months ago, the same offer stands.
The fact is, while we knew Dalton was our guy, we knew he was our guy in a strictly TCU related context and genuinely didn't have any great expectations for him beyond that. But then three things happened: One, Dalton led the Frogs to a second consecutive undefeated season and capped it off by dissecting a team who was thought to perhaps be the best in the country with a legitimate gripe of being left out of the title game discussion. Two, Andrew Luck stayed in school, leaving this draft with no true front runner at the position which forced teams to inspect the entire field and judge each prospect on level ground. And three, the NFL lockout we'd been hearing about for months and months came to pass, shutting down free agency and at the same time creating doubt and fear in front offices once they realized the draft could be their only way of improving their team this off season. As a result, a premium has seemingly been placed on lower risk players, which has worked swimmingly to Dalton's benefit given he's arguably the cleanest of the next tier of QBs. When the biggest, run up to the draft knock against you is the color of your hair, you know that NFL types are having problems justifying why they won't pick you. Jake Locker is an overrated scrub who never performed at the college level and is a total product of Mel Kiper and Todd McShay and Ryan Mallett has the tools and the frame to be a high performing NFL QB but it's unclear whether he has the mental makeup for the job, which leaves Dalton and Christian Ponder as the only two guys who would seemingly make sense for a team picking from this group. And really, you're gonna take Christian Ponder over Andy Dalton? Child, please.
So as a result of the above three factors, Dalton has gone from undrafted free agent to mid round, good value prospect, to a draft invitee who could be off the board as high as the 12th pick if you believe ESPN.com blogger Kevin Seifert. You think our coaching staff MIGHT use that story in future recruiting pitches?
Truth be told, Andy Dalton is, to my mind, the most elusive pick in the entire draft and his status is the only reason I will be tuned it for every bit of the opening night coverage. Few, if any, other players in the draft have the potential to go as high as the Top 15 or as low as the third round. It should make for some fascinating television, and regardless of where he ends up, he will be an NFL player by the end of the weekend.
When I started putting together my "Spitblood Psychic" posts, the hype machine was just getting cranked up for Andy and at the time I assumed they'd be pretty manageable as I couldn't envision any more than 10 teams showing genuine interest. But as the weeks went on and just about every single team in the NFL began showing interest, I abandoned them altogether because every NFL writer on the internet did the work for me. Heck, Peter King penned at least 2-3 articles of his own highlighting Dalton, and no matter what we think of PK - he's terrible is what you should think - this is the same sports writer who helped hoodwink Josh McDaniels into taking Tim Tebow 3 rounds too early, costing him his job in the process! Like I said, I question the King's motives and methods more often than not, but the man does have an audience.
(I also stopped writing them because they were just as boring to write as they apparently were to read based on the lack of reaction. Seriously, being a "Draftnick" is the most useless job of all time because you can literally write or say ANYTHING and if you're wrong, no one gives a shit. Every single cent that McShay and Kiper are paid is a cent too many. When you consider they make more at their jobs than a lot of folks ever will, you understand why everyone hates America.)
To go ahead and destroy the credibility of this post before I even really get it started, all I'm saying above is that I have no clue where Dalton will go, although I'm leaning second round. But based on everything I've seen and heard, these are the best guesses I can come up with. To cut back on repetition, if I have already previewed a team in said Psychic posts, I will link directly to them and offer only a brief summary for those of you who are too lazy to click the links.
- Bottom Line: The 49ers need a QB and seem to love Dalton as Coach Jim Harbaugh - who apparently knows a thing or two about QB's - was the only head man to attend Dalton's Pro Day workout in Fort Worth. If he falls to their pick in the second round, that should be that.
- Bottom Line: Tennessee needs some hope after Vince Young and his mental midgetry absolutely torpedoed their franchise and got Coach Jeff Fisher fired even though he never wanted Young in the first place. Like SF, they probably hope Dalton slips to the second round, but are among the teams who could spring for one of the top tier QBs with their first rounder.
- Bottom Line: Pey Pey won't be around forever and Dalton fits the clean cut image the Colts like to project, assuming you completely overlook Marvin Harrison and his drive by tendencies. Dalton could learn from one of the best in the league for a few years and have no pressure at being an instant savior.
- Bottom Line: Favraro is gone for good, as is Tarvaris Jackson, so Minny is in DESPERATE need of a QB. If they're high on Dalton, it's not unthinkable that they would take him with their first rounder, but they are probably more in the market for immediate help. Would take a look with a second rounder if he falls.
5. Washington Redskins.
- I include the Redskins in this list above the two Ohio teams and the New England Patriots, who were the other 3 teams I previewed before quittin' tim,e because Mike Shanahan appears ready to start over. Donovan McNabb will never throw another interception for him, Rex Grossman is the most ill-remembered starting QB of a Super Bowl ever and whatever else they're trying to pass as a QB on their roster will surely never sniff the field if Shanny has anything to do with it. Of course, this one comes with the caveat that Washington would either reach for Dalton with the 10th overall pick or risk trading down to pick him up in the teens, but with Daniel Snyder on board, truly anything is possible. There's been a small bit of fire to this rumor and I think there is genuine interest, but if you'll recall Shanahan's last first round QB pick of Jay Cutler while he was still in Denver, he's not the type to show his cards early.
Others in the Running:
New Orleans Saints.
- Another team not included on my original list are the Saints, who have been one of late comers to the Dalton party. I personally think this is just a product of a bored rumor monger playing the inevitable Drew Brees/Andy Dalton size comparions - although it should be noted that Dalton makes Brees look like Wee Man by comparison - but I suppose all teams have to think of the future eventually. Brees may only be 31 years and be one season removed from leading the Saints to one of the more unlikely Super Bowl Championships of all time, but as NFL career spans become shorter and shorter, it's not unreasonable to think he could start breaking down in the not so distant future. The only two other QB's currently on the Saints roster are Sean Canfield and Chase Daniel - another mini-sized football player - so it's not unreasonable to think the Saints could be in the market for a backup. This actually wouldn't be too bad of a situation on paper for Andy, although I think my above assertions about Brees being on the verge of breaking down are a bit overstated. However, with New Orleans picking 24th in the first and second rounds, respectively, it would take a major slide for him to wind up in the Big Easy as I can't picture a situation where they use a first round pick on a guy they hope doesn't see the field.
- This is just one of those picks that, like Minnesota, makes too much sense if you believe Dalton is first round material. If the current trend holds, grabbing Dalton with the 25th pick in the first round would be the unquestioned steal of the entire weekend. With Matt Hasselback likely testing the free agency waters once that window finally opens, does Pete Carroll really want to put the fate of his third NFL coaching stop in the hands of Charlie Whitehurst? Carroll is nuts, but I'm not sure if he's that nuts. Given, I don't think you want Dalton to come in some place and be expected to be a day one starter, but Seattle is definitely a landing spot where he would be on as close to level ground for the starting job as anyone else on the roster. Although you might recall another former TCU standout who arrived in the Pacific Northwest expecting to wait his turn only to be thrust into the starting role when it was deemed to be foolish to keep him off the field, so at least David Hawthorne would be a friendly face to have around. However, it has been rumored that, with a multitude of other needs, Seattle is going to aggressively shop their pick for an additional 2nd or 3rd rounder on draft night which would likely take them out of the running altogether. Still, if Dalton is on the board when their name gets called, don't be shocked if you see Pete Carroll floating to their war room fax machine to deliver Dalton's name to Roger Goodell.
- Bottom Line: Carson Palmer is apparently never coming back and I can't imagine the Bengals rolling the dice with his little brother unless it is absolute their only option. New OC Jay Gruden also apparently has a bad case of the geigh when it comes to Red. I still think the Bengals grab Gabbert or Newton if they are still there at the #4 pick, but they are another team who would take a hard look if Dalton is there in the second.
- Another late addition to the party, I was not even aware of their potential interest until Peter King stuck Dalton's name in their slot in his mock draft for Sports Illustrated. However, as King also linked Dalton to Tennessee, San Francisco and Minnesota in this very same mock, I'm not sure what we should make of any of his proclamations. Regardless, I suppose it makes SOME sense as their current QB depth chart includes Chad Henne and Tyler Thigpen with Chad Pennington apparently off the reservation entirely. If you ever wondered why Miami lacks a passionate fan base and has been forced to sell shares of the team to the likes of J-Lo, Jimmy Buffett and Venus Williams just to stay afloat, that should pretty well sum it up. This pick makes even more sense when you take into account Alabama RB Mark Ingram's slide down draft boards the past couple of weeks because in the early stages he was all but a lock to end up taking his talents to South Beach. From what I understand, Miami is publicly suggesting that Henne is their guy going forward, but based on his previous performance you have to think his name is written on the depth chart in pencil. However, like the others this one comes with the caveat that Miami would give up a premium pick for a guy they see as a backup for the immediate future. Lots of dark horse potential, though.
To be frank, there are at least 5-7 more teams - Jacksonville is an obvious oversight - I could lump into this mockery of decision making - because that's what a mock draft essentially is, yes? - but I'll keep it where it is and hope my 10% odds work out. These are the teams who I don't think would take Dalton based on either their current QB situation or how high he is likely to be drafted: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas, Atlanta, Bodymore, Kansas City - although I believe he visited - San Diego, NYG, Green Bay, St Louis and Tampa Bay, but a big slide moves anyone into play. That leaves 10 more teams who could possibly be in the mix this Thursday or Friday that I didn't even mention. Of course, chances are he'll go to some team who we would never even consider because you have no way of knowing how things will shake out until the picks start rolling in, especially in a draft like this where this is no clear cut #1 choice. Seriously, Carolina has apparently fielded 0 phone calls for their top overall choice which is pretty unprecedented.
The fact that we're even able to have this conversation about Dalton at all says a lot about how far he's come from choosing between UTEP, TCU and Memphis as a mop headed high schooler. Wherever he is drafted, you just get the feeling that he'll make the most of it and, even if it doesn't work out in his initial landing spot, I think Andy will be an NFL contributor before his career is said and done. We'll miss having Red in TCU purple, but at least now I know I'll have a team to follow once the Cowboys annual crapfest is in full swing.
Unless it's the Eagles. Cause I hate the fuckin' Eagles.
And just in case you haven't pored over them already, here are several potential landing spots for Dalton based on more widely distributed mocks:
- Sporting News: Seattle Seahawks, 25th overall.
- Other Sporting News: San Francisco 49ers, third round.
- SBNation: Cincinnati Bengals, 23rd overall - assuming a trade up with Philly.
- Walterfootball: Cincinnati Bengals, 35th overall.
- SI.com: Seattle Seahawks, 25th overall.