Path to the Pros: Andy Dalton

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Can you believe one NFL coach is concerned about quarterback Andy Dalton's NFL prospects because—wait for it—he has red hair? "Has there ever been a red-headed quarterback in the NFL who's really done well?" he queried.

And can you believe a private university with just 8,000 students can boast a powerhouse football program? That wasn't always the case at Texas Christian University. But then Dalton arrived in Fort Worth, and the four-year starter led TCU's transformation from a mid-major football program to the 2011 Rose Bowl champions and number-two ranked team in the nation at the end of last season. In his final three seasons of college ball, he fashioned a record of 34-3.

Still, Dalton can't seem to escape the underrated tag that identified the TCU teams he led. "His height is below average," "his speed is only decent," and "he needs to prove [he's] capable of holding up in the NFL" are some of what scouts are saying about his physical make-up.

The NFL is a quarterback's league, and you won't find a prospect in this year's class who possesses more intangibles of a winning QB than Dalton. What he lacks in size, he makes up in, well, basically every other attribute desired by NFL coaches: smarts, instincts, competitiveness, leadership and many others.

Asked what he wants NFL teams to know most about his ability, Dalton says, "I want them to see not only my physical skills, but also that I understand the game of football and worked really hard at understanding all the different aspects of offenses, defenses and protections. It's been fun to see how my skill sets translate to the NFL, not only on the field, but in the classroom when we're working on the board.

"So, hopefully I'll go out and impress some people."

We were certainly impressed after spending a day with Dalton as he prepared for the NFL Combine at Plex training facility in Stafford, Texas. Check the video above for highlights of our visit.

Catch up on the first five installments from the Path to the Pros series, including episode four, featuring Dalton's fellow Plex trainee Nick Fairley.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | QUARTERBACK | PATH TO THE PROS | COACH