Well, now that Ted, Eric, and Kyle have given you their closing arguments, it's about high time I get around to doing the same thing, huh?
It's no secret that the Minnesota Vikings need a quarterback. . .many of us have become sick of the Vikings becoming a final resting place (of sorts) for the careers of various NFL quarterbacks, whether it's Brad Johnson or Brett Favre or (potentially) Donovan McNabb. It's high time that this team takes a signal caller of their own to develop for the long-term rather than continue trying to put a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound the way they have for most of their existence.
The Minnesota Vikings have only selected two quarterbacks in the first round of the draft in franchise history. . .Tommy Kramer in 1977 and Daunte Culpepper in 1999. Both of those guys worked out just fine, to be blunt. So, it isn't that the Vikings are incapable of developing a quarterback on their own. . .they've just rarely taken the opportunity to do so, largely because they've had so few bad seasons that they've really never been in a position to take a "franchise" type of player before.
They're in that position this year and, barring something strange happening this evening, they will be in a position to take the guy that, in my opinion, will be their answer at quarterback well into the future.
Ladies and gentlemen. . .meet Andy Dalton.Dalton is a name that has been moving up draft boards all off-season, and with good reason. He got better every single year for the Horned Frogs as a four-year starter, capping off a stellar college career this season by completing two-thirds of his passes, and putting up a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 27-to-6. He led Texas Christian to their second straight undefeated regular season, and then engineered a victory over a very good Wisconsin team in this year's Rose Bowl, winning game MVP honors in the process.
I understand that Dalton's physical measurements might now wow anybody. . .he isn't a freak of nature like Cam Newton or a big statue like Ryan Mallett or an insanely great athlete like Jake Locker. Dalton checks in at around 6'2" tall, about 220 pounds, and ran his 40-yard dash in about 4.8 seconds. But physical measureables are only a small part of the quarterback position. . .just ask guys like Dan McGwire and Ryan Leaf.
What makes Dalton a great quarterback at the college level. . .and, in my opinion, will make him a great quarterback at the professional level. . .are his leadership skills. The guy refuses to lose, and that was reflected in his tenure at Texas Christian. He has very good presence in the pocket, and while he doesn't possess blazing speed or anything like that, he knows how to get away from the rush and can make plays on the move when he needs to. He also possesses a great deal of football intelligence, from all accounts. . .so while he did play in a shotgun-heavy offense in college (much like many of this year's top prospects at the position), I don't believe his transition to the pro game would take all that long.
But I can't emphasize the fact enough that Andy Dalton, to put it simply, is a winner. As I mentioned, he was a four-year starter at Texas Christian, and has been a significant part of TCU's transition from "Awwwww, aren't they cute" to "Man, that team is really, really good." In the time that Dalton has been the Horned Frogs' starting quarterback, the team has had a record of 44-8. Five of those eight losses came in Dalton's freshman year, so over the last three seasons, the Horned Frogs have a record of 36-3. In the last two seasons, the only loss the Horned Frogs suffered was a 17-10 loss to Boise State in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. Dalton also led TCU to a bowl game every year he was the starter. . .TCU won three of those four bowl games, and in each of those victories, Dalton was the game MVP.
The cry that Dalton's detractors often come out with is that his accomplishments were put together against "inferior competition." Honestly, I don't think that's a great argument. Yes, the Mountain West Conference isn't a "BCS" conference, and it isn't even considered a "glamor" conference by many standards. But if we're looking at the BCS, there's no way on earth you're going to convince me that the Mountain West isn't as good as some of the BCS conferences, notably the Big East and the ACC. If you matched the Mountain West up head-to-head with those two conferences, I think the MWC would acquit themselves quite well, to be honest.
The Minnesota Vikings, in my opinion, deserve a quarterback like Andy Dalton. The man is smart, he's clean, he's dedicated. . .and he's a winner. I would go so far as to say that the Vikings should grab him with the 12th overall pick, though if they could trade back and still get him, that would be even better. But a player with Dalton's skills, abilities, and intangibles shouldn't be considered a "reach" at number 12. . .I honestly feel that if the Vikings were to take Andy Dalton, we would finally be set at the quarterback position for the next decade and not be in the position to have to take a quarterback again in three years or so.
So, there's my argument for the Vikings' first-round draft choice.