Spotlight on ... Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton

Sam Greenwood

When it comes to Andy Dalton, he may not have been one of the best quarterbacks going into the 2011 draft, but he's turned into one of the more under the radar quarterbacks in the NFL. One could argue he's not under the radar considering the success the Bengals had last year, but he's not one everyone talks about on a consistent basis. Where did Dalton come from?

After being redshirted his freshmen year at TCU, Dalton beat Marcus Jackson for the starting role. He took TCU to an 8-5 record that year, but only bigger things were coming after that. For the rest of his career there he went 34-3 as a starter. TCU went 11-2 in 2008, and had two perfect regular seasons in a row going 12-0 in 2009 and 13-0 in 2010. TCU finished the 2010 season No. 2 in the AP poll and defeated Wisconsin 21-19 in the Rose Bowl.

Dalton holds many offensive records at TCU including wins (42), passing yards (10,314), touchdown passes (71), completion percentage (61.6) and a single season record for touchdown passes (27). He has a single game record for completion percentage when he threw 91.3 percent of his passes against Baylor in 2010.

Dalton was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round, 35th pick overall, in 2011. After joining the team there was debate on who the starting quarterback would be for the Bengals. Former Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer had been traded after a rocky ending to his Bengals career, leaving the team to decide between Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski for the starting job. Before the first preseason, coach Marvin Lewis named Dalton the starter after revealing the depth chart.

Dalton had an impressive rookie season for the Bengals. He threw 3,398 yards, 20 touchdown passes, and had a completion percentage of 58.1. He joins a group that includes Cam Newton, Peyton Manning, and Dan Marino who were all rookies to throw for at least 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns. He and rookie A.J. Green became quite a prolific quarterback/wide receiver duo which contributed to the success the Bengals had in 2011.

Dalton led the Bengals to a 9-7 record and went to the playoffs. However, they lost in the first round to the Houston Texans, 31-10.

So far in 2012 the Bengals are not having the year that had last year and are entering this Sunday's game against the New York Giants in a must-win situation in order to stay in a playoff race. The Bengals are 3-5 and have lost their last four games in a row. Dalton, however, is still putting up decent numbers. He's thrown for 2,130 yards and 14 touchdowns with a 63.9 completion percentage, but he does have 11 interceptions and has been sacked 22 times already. Dalton is seeing significantly less protection than he did last year resulting in the amount of turnovers and sacks.

"There’s been some things, some fluky deals with the interceptions. I’ve got to be a better decision-maker, be accurate with the ball and get the ball to our guys; not give the defense a chance," Dalton said.

With the down year the Bengals have had so far this season, it does not take away the impact Dalton has on the team. If he keeps up his numbers consistently, brings the turnovers down, and the Bengals play it smart in future drafts and build a team around him, look out for him being a future top 10 (or 5) quarterback.

Follow Kelsey O'Donnell on Twitter @KelsODonnell

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