Andy Dalton & Some Interior OL

by Tommy Lawlor  –

* I re-watched a TCU game to take another look at Andy Dalton.  I just don’t get the hype.  I love his intangibles.  Andy is a leader.  He’s a winner.  He seems tough, focused, and driven.  I put on the game tape and don’t see a top QB prospect.  It feels like teams are almost talking themselves into liking Dalton more than they should.

He’s got NFL size and decent athleticism.  His arm strength is okay, but nothing more.  He threw a good deep ball in the game and was very good on underneath stuff.  My big issue was intermediate throws.  They lacked good zip.  That can be a problem in the NFL.  Andy made a couple of NFL throws in the game.  His best was when he hit a WR on a skinny post.  The ball was out in front so the receiver could catch it on the move.  Terrific throw.

He threw 4 TDs in the game.  I made sure to watch a positive performance.  2 of the TDs were to wide open players in the seam.  That was great for TCU fans, but didn’t tell scouts anything.  I could have made those throws.  To be fair, I probably would have had to set my beer down to do it.  Andy is willing to throw into tight windows.  He’s not the typical college QB in that sense.  Most guys need players to be wide open.

One of my biggest concerns with Dalton is that he tends to miss high.  That wasn’t a problem in the Mountain West, but could be in the NFL.  Balls up high get picked or tipped and then picked.  He really needs to work on that.

I think the talk of Dalton going in the 1st round is insane, but this is a poor QB class and guys will get over-drafted.  With Andy you at least know you’ll be getting a high character player that will do everything in his power to succeed.  I’ve heard Andy compared to Kevin Kolb and Drew Brees.  I don’t get that.  Those guys played in pass happy attacks.  TCU is a running team that also throws.  In his career, Andy had 16 games of 30 or more pass attempts.  Kolb had 18 such games in his final 2 years at Houston.  I don’t know the numbers for Brees, but Purdue was a major aerial attack in his day.  Dalton didn’t have the pressure of carrying the offense on his back the way they did.

I like Dalton and want him to succeed, but have my concerns.

* I took another look at S Colin Jones in watching that game.  He had a terrific showing at the TCU Pro Day.  Jones was used like at LB a lot of the time.  He played in the box enough to rack up 11.5 TFLs this year.  Good tackler and run defender.  Has potential as a cover guy.  You can see his agility and athleticism when watching the tape.  I’m not sure about his instincts.

* I watched Slippery Rock to check out C prospect Brandon Fusco.  Really good stuff.  Fun guy to watch.  Dominant player at the D2 level.  Has good athleticism, which helps him to block well on the move.  Really good sustain on his blocks.  He drove LBs nuts.  He’d get on them and stick with the block until he heard the whistle go quiet.  Had a bit of a bully personality, which is good for an OL.  This is a poor C class and Fusco will be one of the first to go off the board.

* Another lineman I enjoyed watching this week was LG Julian Vandervelde of Iowa.  He was really impressive in the Ohio State game.  He handled Cam Heyward on quite a few snaps.  Vandervelde anchors well.  He might give a step, but then is able to re-set and hold his ground.  Fires off the ball on run plays.  Can be sloppy at the 2nd level if he’s going too fast.  Excellent awareness on stunts and blitzes.  I then watched him vs Wisconsin and was impressed with that showing.  He’s not huge.  Solid athlete.  Very underrated player.

* I watched both JJ Watt and Adrian Clayborn in that game.  I love Watt.  He’s 6’5, 290, but sometimes you’d swear he’s a 260-pound speed rusher with the way he flies off the edge.  God he’s fun to watch.  Tons of potential.  He played LDE, RDE, and DT in the game and caused problems from each spot.

Clayborn is a tough player to evaluate because of his mediocre Senior season and medical concerns.  Look at the numbers:

2009 – 11.5 sacks, 20 TFLs, 4 FFs, 36 solo tackles
2010 – 3.5 sacks, 7 TFLs, 1 FF, 19 solo tackles

As a Junior, Clayborn was a guy that dominated games.  He was a major difference maker.  That wasn’t true in 2010.  He is a player I believe will bounce back in the NFL.  He will simply be drafted lower than he hoped.  You can still see his talent is there.

Late in the game vs UW he turned it on and flew off the edge on some critical downs.  He showed good burst and pressured the QB.  The burst is still there.  This is not a Quentin Moses situation where the guy went from high pick to mid-rounder because he forgot how to play as a Senior.  Clayborn had a down year and could slide into the early 2nd round, but he’s still a good prospect and guy I believe in.

* Iowa Safety Tyler Sash is someone that I’ve not talked much about.  Good player.  He can play in the box or sit back deep.  Good run defender.  He comes up quickly in run support when he’s off the ball.  Good tackler, most of the time.  Takes good angles to the ball.  Solid coverage Safety.  Picked off 13 passes in his career.  Looked good in workouts at the Combine and did well in the athletic tests.  Best when playing zone or off the ball.  Has good hands and shows excellent awareness.

* I’m legally required to say something about Ohio State LB Brian Rolle.  I was focused on other players in the OSU/Iowa game, but he just jumps out when you watch the Buckeyes.  Rolle was in on 10 tackles in the game, 3 of them were TFLs.  I love watching him hit RBs and TEs as they go to release into pass routes.  He put quite a few of those guys on the ground before they could even get going.  Rolle is undersized, but he’s physical, tough, and athletic.  Love watching him play.

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