Physically, the guy has as good a skill set as any prospect to come along in years. He possesses great height, an elite arm and can spin the football with ease on all levels of the field and make all the throws. Therefore, when you have a quarterback prospect with all the physical tools who has been extremely productive in the top conference in America — the SEC — common thought automatically says that this guy should be a first-round pick, and a lofty one at that, right?
My response: No.
And here’s why:
As we see from Mallett on tape, the guy is a really limited athlete. He struggles to quickly reset his feet when looking for secondary targets and for the most part simply will trust that big arm too much and try to make just about every throw from the waist up once he feels pressure. He has a tendency to fall off throws even with some time in the pocket, and not consistently realign his body/feet toward his secondary target, which ultimately causes his accuracy to really suffer. And in my view, if you make him move his feet, he’s done, as he struggles to maintain his balance in his lower half, which directly affects his accuracy with the football.
And even when Mallett has his feet set and is able to stride toward his target, the guy isn’t overly accurate with the football. Sure, his completion percentage has gone up to 66.5 percent this season, but when you actually break down his ball placement on a throw-to-throw basis, he doesn’t grade out real high in that area. He’s got a ton of talented receivers and tight ends to throw to on the Arkansas offense who consistently are able to gain significant separation and give Mallett massive throwing lanes to throw into. Therefore, if his ball placement isn’t perfect, he can still get away with it and complete the pass. However, in the NFL, we have seen quarterbacks who come in and showcase elite ball placement have a much easier time making all the throws than simply the strong-armed quarterbacks, because of their ability to accurately pinpoint throws and neatly place passes into tight windows, something Mallett will really struggle with at the next level.
Mallett’s lack of ball placement also takes away from his receivers’ ability to consistently run after the catch in the underneath passing game, as they are routinely forced to gear down or even stop because of poorly thrown passes that do not allow them to consistently run at full speed through the pass.
Finally, there are also some concerns about the guys character, surrounding anything from his transfer from Michigan to questions about his overall personality to possibly even some off-the-field issues, as I talked to one area scout this year who told me “I got stuff on Mallett that no one even knows about and I wouldn’t touch him.”
Therefore, when you add up all the negatives on a quarterback like Mallett and take in the facts that he’s not a good athlete, struggles with his footwork, lacks great ball placement even when he has time to set and throw and there are some character concerns attached to his name, there is no way I would feel comfortable taking the guy in the first round. And if I don’t feel comfortable taking him in round one, I don’t think I would take him in round two either. He’s a guy who I would seriously consider just taking off my draftboard and moving on from as a quarterback prospect.
Now, is the guy going to go high? Yes. Is he going to be a first-round pick? In my view most definitely. However, if I were a GM — which I am not — I would just have an extremely hard time putting my career and the team’s future success riding on the rocket arm of Ryan Mallett."
Arm Strength: Mallett's greatest trait. Possesses as strong an arm as there is in the country. Can fit the ball through closing windows, making him capable of completing throws most cannot. Drives the ball on the deep out and can zip the back shoulder throw against tight coverage. Has a tendency to get overly confident with his arm and will attempt to make ill-advised throws into coverage. Has learned to take some speed off when needed.
Setup/Release: Takes most of his snaps out of the shotgun, though he has shown the ability to drop back from center. Gains depth due to the length of his gait rather than foot quickness. Though his long arm makes for an awkward-looking windup, Mallett possesses a fluid, over-the-top release that generates momentum, resulting in the ball exploding out of his hand. Steps into his throws when he has room in the pocket, but loses accuracy when forced to rely solely on his arm.
Reading Defenses: Excellent height to see over the top of his linemen and read defenses. Good field vision, showing the ability to check down from his first and second options to drop passes off to outlet receivers. Flashes the ability to look off the safety, but most do this more consistently. Generally reads the blitz coming and can make defenses pay for their aggression by hitting the hot route, but doesn't possess the athleticism to escape the pocket when he is surprised.
On the Move: Can slide laterally to avoid the rush. Improved significantly as a junior in stepping up in the pocket to buy time. Willing to take a big hit to complete the pass. Has heavy feet and long legs, however, causing him to take longer than most to set his feet and throw accurately when forced to vacate the pocket. Threw critical interceptions late against Alabama and Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl when this occurred. Willing to tuck the ball and run when he's given a free lane and has exhausted his throwing options, but is no danger to consistently gain yardage as a scrambler. Doesn't get low enough or show more than average leg drive for the QB sneak.
Intangibles: Some have concerns over his maturity level. Has a brash personality that has caused some to question whether he possesses the leadership to handle an NFL huddle. Was never voted a team captain with the Razorbacks despite the fact that quarterbacks are often pushed by coaching staffs as such. Very confident in his own talent and early in his career wasn't known for his dedication to the film room. Arrested for public intoxication on March 1, 2009, in Fayetteville."
Arm Strength: Possibly his greatest attribute, Mallett’s arm strength is among the best in college football. Whether it’s a deep ball down the sideline or putting the ball on a rope 20 yards down the field, he has the arm to put the ball anywhere it needs to go. However, too often his passes are overthrown as if he loses control of the amount of strength behind his throws. The main concern is that he can sometimes rely too much on his arm strength when making risky passes.
Athleticism/Mobility: Mallett is a pure pocket passer. He doesn’t have the speed, athleticism or quickness to be a legitimate scrambling threat in the NFL. Shows good movement in the pocket, but defenders shouldn’t be concerned with him picking up first downs with his feet on a consistent basis. Overall, he is subpar in both top-end speed and athleticism, but makes up for it with decision making and poise.
Decision Making: Mallett is a very confident passer with great awareness and football knowledge. However, that confidence can sometimes be detrimental to his play when he decides to force tough throws when nothing is there. When he has time to throw, he reads the defense and does a good job of checking down to his second and third options. Even with pressure in his face, he makes smart, quick decisions to throw the ball away. Despite his lack of speed, he can sometimes try too hard to outrun the defense and put his offense in tough situations by giving up unnecessary sacks. A 10:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio provides support for his strong decision making.
Field Vision: The fact that he’s 6’7’’ allows him to have clear vision of the field and makes his passes much harder to bat down by the defensive line. He does a solid job of reading the defense, reacting after the snap, and taking what the defense can give him. Often checks down to backs and tight ends out of the backfield if he sees nothing available down field.
Mechanics: Coming out of the pro-style offense of Bobby Petrino, Mallett has honed his skills as a prototypical NFL passer. He has a very natural, over-the-top release that, matched with his height, allows him to deliver the ball cleanly and effectively. Stands tall when delivering the ball, and uses a quick, fluid motion to get the ball out of his hands. When he runs play-action, he does an outstanding job of selling the run and hiding the ball from the defense. However, he needs to learn to drop back more effectively considering he spent lots of his time at Arkansas in either the shotgun or pistol formations.
Pocket Awareness/Poise: As mentioned earlier, Mallett has excellent pocket presence and awareness which allows him to evade the pass rush and continue to look down field. He doesn’t typically get flustered by the pressure and can step into hits in order to make a good pass. Even in tough situations, he has held his own and been a composed leader for his teammates to rally around.
Final Word: Any team would be glad to have a player of Mallett’s ability and leadership taking snaps for their offense. Passing stats come easily and in large quantities for Mallett, who is as productive as they come at the quarterback spot. After having an up-and-down season in 2009, he came back in 2010 after considering the NFL and proved that he could be smarter and more consistent with his decisions. He has shown great maturation since joining Arkansas in 2008 as a transfer from Michigan.
Mallett has all of the tools to become a sensational quarterback in the NFL. No matter the situation, he is a proven leader and hard worker, but can sometimes lose focus when things start to fall apart as evidenced by Arkansas’ 2009 loss to Alabama by a score of 7-35 in which he completed just 34% of his passes. Teammates seem to rally around his vocal leadership and feed off his positive energy. However, scouts will need to look into why coaches at Michigan had issues with him that eventually led to him transferring.
During spring practices in 2008, he missed the final two weeks due to an injured finger in his throwing hand. Other than that, there are no standout durability issues for Mallett.
Given the right coaching and the proper system, he could eventually put up big time numbers in the NFL just as he did under Petrino. In order to succeed, he will need to work on controlling his strength on deep balls and making better decisions with defenders bearing down on him. If the right circumstances arise, Mallett could come off the board in the late first/early second round of the 2011 draft."
Mallett should be a top five pick.
The arrival of Rich Rodriguez did not fit Mallett’s style of play. Rodriquez wanted smaller, fast quarterbacks who could throw on the run, and Mallett, the former #4 overall recruit in the nation, was a pure drop-back passer.
Here enters Arkansas, where Mallett was forced to sit and redshirt in 2008 due to NCAA Division I transfer rules. He started every game for the Razorbacks in 2009, and posted over a 9 yard per attempt average on his passes. He emerged as a Heisman sleeper for 2010 on a rising Arkansas team who went on to earn a Sugar Bowl bid after a 10-2 regular season with their only two losses against Alabama and Auburn.
Mallett’s number one strength is the strength of his arm. He can throw the football all over the field, able to make all of the NFL throws. Mallett has a quick release out of the pocket and a solid throwing motion and mechanics. He rarely throws off balanced, generally getting a good plant off his front foot. His delivery is quick and effortless, and he makes throws downfield look easy. He does a great job selling the play action, and his ideal height is great for his field vision.
Mallett’s biggest weakness is his overall accuracy and decision making. He’s a risk taker downfield, which can lead to interceptions, especially at the next level. While his intermediate accuracy over the middle of the field has improved, it’s still just slightly above average. He struggles with touch on shorter passers, sometimes having too much velocity. At times he can be too confident in his arm often forcing a play in a tight space. Mallett’s intangibles may be in question, as there have been rumblings that he’s a bit arrogant and has turned people in the locker room off. The latest rumors are swirling that Mallett has been a frequent cocaine and marijuana user. If confirmed, that could be a major red flag for him.
After declaring for the 2011 NFL Draft shortly after a Sugar Bowl loss to Ohio State, Mallett’s stock sits as a first round grade. Personally, I see a Top 10 talent, with a lot still untapped. With the right coaching Mallett could become a superstar in the NFL. However, with his big arm and questionable accuracy, some comparisons to Derek Anderson have risen. He is a smart quarterback, with uncanny physical ability, and he should be able to fare better than the former Oregon State product.
Mallett has to compete with the likes of Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, and Cam Newton as he will most likely be targeted by several Top 15 teams. Teams like Buffalo, Arizona, and maybe even San Francisco could all be in the running for Mallett. They all have nice targets down the field that a big armed guy like Mallett could get the football to.
NFL Comparison: Philip Rivers"
Positive: Proto-typical pocket passer with a strong arm and the physical skills necessary to start at the next level. Patient in the pocket, throws with an over-the-top delivery, and has tremendous arm strength. Puts air under deep passes, giving receivers a chance, and can drive the long ball. Easily gets the ball through tight spots and powers passes into receivers when necessary. Has a quick release, gets rid of the ball with a flick of his wrist, and loses nothing throwing and on the move. Buys time for receivers, checks down when necessary, and spreads the ball around the field. Rhythm quarterback who's tough to stop once he gets on a roll.
Negative: Has an inconsistent release point, which leads to inaccurate passes. Throws the ball behind receivers and misses opportunities deep. Has receivers stopping in the route and waiting for the pass, which leads to loss of yardage after the reception. Not an elusive quarterback who can escape the rush or pick up yardage with his legs. Does not always find the safety and throws inopportune interceptions. Does not put touch on throws when necessary. Has had his maturity questioned by numerous scouts. Red flagged on a number of character and personality issues.
Analysis: From a physical standpoint Mallet projects as a top-10 pick in April E(TM)s draft . However, his propensity to throw untimely interceptions or miss opportune moments in a game will push him further into the first round. The concerns about Mallett the person could knock him into round two. Mallett needs a lot of work on his game but if he puts it all together he'll be an effective starter at the next level."
Negatives: Inconsistent accuracy, tries to throw every pass 100 mph which causes the ball to sail on him... Doesn't hit his receivers in stride, makes his receivers adjust to passes... Awkward throwing motion, will need to be coached up and is a bit of a project as far as mechanics are concerned... Footwork needs improvement, doesn't set his feet... Uses his upper body to fling the ball, needs to stop throwing off his back food and work on his stride... Trusts his arm too much, tries to throw into small windows which will be a problem in the NFL... Comes with character concerns, is said to be withdrawn from teammates and isn't very media friendly... Plays for Bobby Petrino who has a history of great college quarterbacks who have flopped in the NFL (Brian Brohm, Chris Redman, Stefan LeFors, Dave Ragone)... Suffered a concussion in week seven this year against Auburn, knocking him out of the game."
Weaknesses: He does exhibit some minor mechanics issues and has not performed well when he is actively pressured and forced to re-locate. He has thrown some interceptions at critical points in the game (most recently in the loss to Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl). He did have a 'public intoxication' arrest early in his career at UA and some recent reports of 'unspecified off-field issues' could hurt his stock. He was visibly un-nerved against Ohio State, particularly when he was sacked - he may need to mature in that respect to be regarded as a complete QB at the next level."
Through six games as a junior, he is completing 69.1 percent of his passes. The numbers started to come last season, proving that Mallett is not all talent and no production. The Michigan transfer tossed 30 touchdowns against just seven interceptions for the Razorbacks, while throwing for 3627 yards. So far this year he is 132 for 191 for 1844 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. Mallett has also run for two scores.
Mallett was probably wise to return to Arkansas for his junior year, at least if the concussion he sustained against Auburn does not become a major factor. He may not be the No. 1 quarterback, at least at the moment, but an overall Top 10 selection in the 2011 draft appears likely."
2010: After starting his career in Ann Arbor as a Michigan Wolverine, Mallet bolted the Maize and Blue upon the arrival of Rich Rodriguez. Mallett returned to his native Arkansas to play for Bobby Petrino, who came up through the coaching ranks as a quarterbacks coach. The first thing that stands out about this Razorback is that everything about him is big. Standing at 6’7” and 235 pounds, the SEC signal caller possesses a cannon arm, one capable of making every NFL throw in the book…and some that aren’t. Mallett can get the ball into windows in coverage with an ease that most quarterbacks can only dream of. However, the Arkansas product is not all arm strength; he possesses light feet and excellent footwork for a man his size. After throwing for 30 touchdowns (only seven interceptions) and 3,624 yards some thought the red-shirt sophomore was right to test the NFL waters, but the broad-shouldered passer wisely returned to Arkansas for at least one more season. He still has issues with mechanics and accuracy that he needs to work on, and college is the place to do so. That being said, Mallett oozes with potential and with a big season he could be a top-10 selection. In fact, if all goes well he’ll join the race to be the number one overall selection in the 2011 Draft, should he declare following his junior season.
2009: A pocket passer with the howitzer arm to make any kind of throw, Ryan Mallett has drawn comparisons to Ben Roethlisberger. He may not be very nimble when he’s forced outside the pocket, but he’s not afraid to stand in there a few extra seconds to deliver his throw. The 6’6-signal caller has a great feel for the rush and a quick release, which makes him difficult to get to. Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino has a strong reputation for developing quarterbacks and his latest pupil seems to have all the tools required of the job. The Michigan transfer is well on his way to be being considered a future franchise quarterback at the next level."
His footwork is lazy, his accuracy wanes on the move and he makes too many ill-advised throws, coming from a Bobby Petrino offense that tends to mask the deficiencies of his QBs. More troubling than any physical traits, however, are concerns about his intangibles, makeup and character that bear too much resemblance to former Chargers first-round bust Ryan Leaf."
When I look at how these Scouts and Analysts regard a QuarterBack, I don't give a rat's ass about how far he can throw it on a wire, or how fast he runs the 40: Anyone who thinks that those Skills are the most critical ones in assessing a QuarterBack's ability to lead a team to a Championship have overlooked the last 90 years of History.
When I look at how these Scouts and Analysts regard a QuarterBack, 90% of my evaluation derives from comments on his Processing Speed, his Decision Making, his Field Vision, his Pocket Presence, and his Mechanics.
There is great divergence of opinion on Ryan Mallett.
I don't have the Optical Speed to to decide the argument based on my own reading of The Tape...But a lifetime of analyzing the way others express themselves tells me a lot. For instance: Those who suggest that Mallett was no so much an accurate Passer as an inaccurate Passer, one whose flaws were protected by the System and his Receivers, are far more convincing, to these eyes, than his supporters.
Even when I read those who consider him an outstanding prospect, it's clear that his Processing Speed is awful, and that his Decision Making and Pocket Presence are even worse, as he often panics and either forces throws or flees the Pocket. And his Mechanics are awful.
My evaluation is that Ryan Mallett is going to be a BUST, gentlemen.
A SUPER Bust.
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