MARVIN LEWIS and OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR JAY GRUDENInitial comments:ML:"We spent a lot of time on this, no question. It's an important pick and an important piece. From all of the time we spent with these guys, Andy Dalton really stood out. All of these guys are great kids and great leaders, but we're really fortunate to select Andy at this spot. We're excited about him moving forward. We're excited about everything he's accomplished thus far at TCU and how he's gone about it. We had the pleasure of spending Friday morning with him on campus. I watched our guys take him through the progression of things, our plays and the footwork. You could see what kind of leader he was. It was amazing watching them take him through the plays and throws, and how he was very quick with it. He has great anticipation of the throws. He does a great job with his lower body and his movement in the pocket. The ball is so accurate. It's almost like he's handing the receiver the ball at times."
What stood out about Andy?ML: "His accuracy and feel for the game. His anticipation for releasing the football, as well as his ability to avoid players and slide in the pocket. He keeps his focus. I would say the anticipation and the accuracy really stood out. People question his arm because he's not six-foot-four, but he's a strong guy and threw the ball just as far as anyone we've worked out."
How do you gauge his leadership?ML: "All of these quarterbacks who have gone in the draft are excellent leaders. I think Andy is in the same frame. What he accomplished at TCU goes without saying."
How ready is Andy to start his rookie year?ML: "I feel really confident in that. I think that's what really drew him to us. We felt he was mature enough and ready to handle it. We went through quite a process with these guys and felt great about him."
Is he going to start?ML: "He's going to compete just like everyone else on the football team."
What did you see from him at the Senior Bowl?ML: "I really didn't pay much attention to those guys at the Senior Bowl. I spent most of my time paying attention to the offensive linemen. You don't get to see those guys, unless it's on tape. I didn't start looking at the quarterbacks until we got home."
How much did the workout reinforce what you already knew about him?ML: "I think for Jay Gruden and I, quite a bit. I think others were more swayed by it because it was their only exposure to him."
Were you concerned another team would trade up to get him?ML: "There is always a possibility. We had an order of people to choose from and we're lucky it worked out for us."
He was a four-year player at TCU. Did that factor in?ML: "He's had great production and really been a great player."
Jay, has this been like two days of Christmas for you?JG: "It is. I was nervous the last couple of days. I've been a big Andy (Dalton) fan since I started this evaluation process. I was holding my breath, hoping his name was written on the ticket and called to the podium. It all worked out."
Jay, you're a quarterback guy — can you say anything else besides what Marvin (Lewis) said regarding what makes Andy stand out?JG: "His accuracy is uncanny — it's not even close. The other quarterbacks are very good and all have great qualities, but to me Andy, by far, is the most accurate and poised quarterback. Anticipation and accuracy is important in any offense, and very important in this one. He can do a lot of things. He can move in the pocket and has a great feel for the pocket. He's a great leader and he's a winner. He loves football, and that's important."
Does your West Coast Offense make Andy the best fit for this team?JG: "For what I envision, I think Andy is the best fit. There are other guys who we could have made fit, but I thought that if we had our choice, I'd like to have Andy. That's my personal opinion, and luckily we got it done. He's going to be a great quarterback in this league, in my opinion. He's going to get an opportunity to come in here and compete for a job right away — what else do you want right away? I asked him at the Combine, 'Are you wanting to come to the NFL and be a backup quarterback and learn for three years, or are you ready to start in six months?' And he said, 'I'm ready now. Let's go.' And that's his mentality. He's a great competitor. He wants to play and have a lot of football thrown in front of him. He wants to learn it all and be the best."
Some analysts say you need a six-foot-four quarterback, and he's not ...JG: "Who's everyone? I'd like to know because I'd like to smack him. Some of the best current and past quarterbacks aren't six-four. (Drew) Brees is doing pretty well, (Joe) Montana did pretty well. Michael Vick is doing pretty well. There are a lot of quarterbacks who succeed at six-foot-two. He's plenty big enough and plenty strong enough. I've seen him make every possible throw there is in football. He throws a deep post, he throws a deep go, he throws a comeback — I don't know what else you want him to do. It may not be as pretty or come out of his arm with a beautiful tight spiral like some guys, but every time he throws it, the right guy catches it and it's accurate. That's what I like about him."
When did you know that he was your guy?JG: "After a lot of film. We watched every game he played this year. We went to his pro day and I worked him out individually. I had him up here for meetings and saw every one of his practices at the Senior Bowl. We studied these guys. Every time I had a doubt about him, he erased the doubt. If he threw an interception, the next drive he'd come back and lead them to a touchdown. If he got sacked and made a poor decision, he backed it up with something special. That's what I like about him. I think he's the most NFL-ready guy in this draft, with his mentality and mental toughness. TCU is a very good all-around football team and they blew some teams out — the challenge is going to be when he's surrounded at Pittsburgh and at Baltimore — if he has to play. We'll see how he reacts to that pressure because that will be huge pressure for a young kid. That's part of why I was so high on him because he handles pressure extremely well."
Does this change anything with Carson Palmer?ML: "No. This is Andy Dalton's day and it's a great day. No impact."
Some people said that (Ryan) Mallett has the big arm that (Andy) Dalton doesn't. Are you saying that may not be the case?JG: "I think from a quarterback standpoint, there's nothing Andy can't do. It may not come out as hard, but the ball gets there because he anticipates throws so well. He throws it before the receivers break, which in the NFL is the whole key to being a successful quarterback — the anticipation accuracy, and those are the two traits he has far and above any of the other quarterbacks in this draft. Time will tell, but that's what drew me to him. Obviously his winning percentage and leadership as well — and his ability to make yards. He rushed for over 1600 yards in his career. He's only a 4.8 guy, but he does a great job making guys miss when he has to run."
ANDY DALTONThe Bengals seemed like they wanted you all along. When did you get the impression that they wanted you?AD: "I kind of knew from the combine. I remember meeting with (offensive coordinator) Jay Gruden. And after I met with him — the day before we threw at the combine — he was like, 'Go ahead and throw a couple in the dirt tomorrow so nobody else likes you' (laughing). So I felt early on that they liked me and I knew there was always a chance. But once I got the phone call, I was very excited."
What have the last couple of days been like for you?AD: "It's been fun. It can be a stressful time, but it's a process. I just kind of relaxed and enjoyed what was going on. I'm very happy for all of those other guys that got picked. I'm just happy to have a new home in Cincinnati."
I just received a tweet from a guy saying he's already gotten five emails tonight about season tickets. Looks like you're already having an impact ...AD: "That's cool. I'm excited to get in there and get working, and I'm excited for the season coming up."
Gruden talked about you being a perfect fit for his style of offense. Did you think it is a perfect fit to the style of quarterback that you are?AD: "I did. And like I was saying before, I've had a lot of contact with them, so I've been around the coaching staff a lot. They came to work me out last Friday, and it was a good workout and a fun atmosphere. I'm just excited to get in and work with everybody."
What is it about your game that fits the Bengals so well?AD: "I have a quick release and I can make all the throws. I think they saw that. I've played a lot of ball games as well. I led my team to the Rose Bowl this year, going undefeated. So I think the record that I had and the intangibles that I had attracted them to me."
Was the Rose Bowl the highlight of your career?AD: "It was by far one of the games I'm always going to remember. It was a great way to end my senior season and cap off the undefeated season."
When are you getting married?AD: "July 9th."
Did your fiancé make you watch the royal wedding?AD: "(Laughs) We actually watched it this morning. We weren't up at 3 or 4, but we had it recorded and watched it this morning."
You must have thought you were going in the first round, right? Were you disappointed?AD: "No, I wasn't disappointed. I'm happy for all of those other guys that got picked. But God had a plan for me, and Cincinnati was the right spot. It was a long day yesterday, but I'm glad today was quick. I'm just happy to be part of the organization."
Do you think this style of offense fits you well, with your quick release, mobility in the pocket and just having a lot of responsibility for the quarterback?AD: "Yes sir. When I came in and visited Cincinnati, they gave me a little bit of the playbook to see how much I could remember. So I had that going into it, and the workout. I feel like I'm ready to go."
You'll have Bengals first-round pick A.J. Green coming in with you this year. What does that make you think about?AD: "He's an explosive player. It makes me think that they're trying to get better at offense and try to attack people. He's a great downfield threat and a great all-around receiver. I'm just excited to come in and work with him."
Have you followed the quarterback situation in Cincinnati lately? What do you think of the situation with Carson Palmer?AD: "I have followed it. Everybody says that he's not coming back. But I can't worry about that. I just have to come in and learn as much as I can as quickly as I can, and put myself in a position to be successful when I get the opportunity."
Do you think you could be the starter for the first game, Sept. 11 in Cleveland?AD: "I'd like to think so. I'd like to think I can come in, learn quickly and show my teammates that they can trust me. I'm ready to get in and start working."
You have the same agent as Kevin Kolb. Did you talk to him at all? If so, did he give you any pointers about the draft process, or even the West Coast Offense?AD: "I actually talked to him a couple of days ago. He just said to enjoy this time, and that it's not always about how high you go, it's about getting to the right spot. I feel like that's happened for me."
There is a lot of uncertainty with the labor situation, but how important is it to you to be able to come here to the stadium to get in and start working?AD: "Yes, that's something that all of us want to do as rookies — come in, get a playbook, start learning and start working. Hopefully there's a chance that happens, but as of right now it's up in the air. It seems to be changing every day."
Do you still have the playbook?AD: "No, I don't."
Can you talk about your decision not to attend the draft in New York?AD: "I wanted to stay here with my family and some of my friends. They've supported me through everything. If I was up in New York, I wouldn't be able to spend this time with them. That's really the main reason I made the decision. It was more about them and everything being pretty hectic up there in New York."
Where are you right now?AD: "I'm at my parents' house in Katy, Texas."
Are there any current Bengals players that you've followed?AD: "Yeah. Obviously Carson Palmer, Cedric Benson, T.O. (Terrell Owens), (Chad) Ochocinco, Jermaine Gresham — those guys. I'm excited to get there and meet with the guys that are going to be around and get started."
It may be a new era. Some of the guys you mentioned may not be here ...AD:"Right, I know. It seems like a lot of guys might not be around. But the guys that will be there will get in and have one goal in mind — and that is to win a lot of ball games."
How would you classify yourself as a leader?AD:"I feel like I'm a leader. I know how to push guys; I know what it takes to push guys. I'm excited to come in, learn the different personalities of everybody there, get on the same page with everybody, and just get to work."
I guess you were able to overcome having red hair (laughing). Was that one of the strangest things you've heard?AD: "(Laughs) Yeah, I guess so. That was. I didn't hear exactly what was said. I just know that some team was wondering if there had ever been any successful red-headed quarterbacks. So, I'm out to prove to whoever said that that there can be a successful red-headed quarterback."