Commentary

TCU's Andy Dalton is a proven winner

Pro scouts might have some doubts, but they can't question the QB's success rate

Updated: March 1, 2011, 1:25 PM ET
By Calvin Watkins | ESPNDallas.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Andy Dalton doesn't have the big name of a Cam Newton, Blaine Gabbert or Jake Locker, but he enters the NFL draft as the biggest winner of any of the eligible quarterbacks.

In four seasons at TCU, Dalton won 42 games as a starter, more than any other quarterback in school history.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireAndy Dalton won 42 games as a starter in four seasons at TCU, a school record.

"I understand the game really well," Dalton said at the national scouting combine. "I think it's the way the offense was for me and TCU put a lot on me. ... And hopefully they'll see that I'm a winner. I didn't lose very many ballgames. I can't stand to lose. All my hard work is to win ballgames."

In his final season, Dalton led TCU to an undefeated campaign, including a 21-19 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl presented by Vizio, and the No. 2 spot in the final polls.

Dalton threw for 2,857 yards with 27 touchdowns as a senior and had nine games with a completion percentage of at least 60 percent.

How this will translate into the NFL game is uncertain. He looked at ease while attempting passes during the combine.

The pool report from Dalton's effort says: "Dalton looked very comfortable in his drops and delivery throughout the morning. For the most part his passes were in catchable areas for the wide receivers, including the deep passes. They did not always connect, but with the exception of two or three passes, there was always a chance to make the catch."

Of course, with any quarterback there are doubts.

Auburn's Newton had off-the-field issues, and now his skill set is being questioned after he struggled during his combine workout.

Ryan Mallett of Arkansas performed well at the combine, but there are also off-the-field issues.

Dalton's struggles in the Fiesta Bowl his junior year raised questions about his game. Scouts want to see him read defenses faster and spend more time under center, something he didn't do enough of at TCU. After a strong senior season, Dalton struggled with his footwork and dealing with the pressure in the Senior Bowl.

"Andy is a great quarterback," TCU wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said. "I've seen him grow over the four years I've been with him. He's able to adapt to any situation."

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
AP Photo/Michael ConroyThe pool report from the combine said Andy Dalton "looked very comfortable in his drops and delivery."

Newton, Missouri's Gabbert and Washington's Locker are projected as potential first-round picks.

After that, Florida State's Christian Ponder, Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, Iowa's Ricky Stanzi, Mallett and Dalton are in the next tier of quarterbacks who could be drafted anywhere through the middle rounds.

To move up the ranks, Dalton needs a strong pro day, but even that might not be enough. But he's used to bucking the odds, having helped non-BCS TCU earn two BCS bowl berths. So he's not fazed by the idea of waiting for his turn at the next level.

"Some guys, it doesn't take long to step in and be the guy," Dalton said. "Others, they have time to sit back and watch a little bit. You see what Aaron Rodgers did this year. He sat out for a while and sat behind Brett Favre, and he's done an outstanding job once his time came. There are obviously different situations depending on the team and the QB situations."

Waiting on Dalton might not be a bad thing for an NFL team because you know he comes from a winning program. Now it's all about how he shows his skills at the next level.

"I'm a smart QB," he said. "I work really hard. I'm a perfectionist. ... I think the thing I need to work on the most is being under center a little more. We ran a lot of shotgun. We ran some stuff under center, but it has made it a pretty quick transition."

Calvin Watkins covers the NFL for ESPNDallas.com.

Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.