Ryan Mallett with last year's #25 overall pick
It’s hard to take anything out of this information and certainly it’s no direct indication that the Seahawks have serious interest in drafting Mallett. Several quarterbacks have worked out in Seattle over the years including Josh Freeman, Chad Henne and Brian Brohm. The Seahawks passed on all three. Last year Jeremy Bates and the offensive staff conducted a long work out with Jimmy Clausen immediately after his pro-day and it led to nothing.
These meetings are sometimes used as an extended scouting session for the future, sometimes they are smoke screens.
I suspect the Seahawks will know at this stage in the process whether they would be prepared to draft Mallett and in what range. John Schneider was one of just two GM’s present at the Arkansas pro-day and there’s enough tape out there against good opponents in the SEC. The meeting may include some final homework on Mallett the person, but again I suspect they’ll know enough about the guy by now to determine whether he’s still part of their draft board.
We’re at the point of the draft where any information has to be viewed with suspicion. Every team is positioning themselves for success on April 28th and this two-day meeting with Ryan Mallett may be a glorious jape.
At the same time, the team needs a quarterback. I’ve written about Mallett several times because I do think he’s suffered from ‘silly season’ in the NFL which annually strives to knock down top prospects who don’t fit ideal stereotypes and promotes lesser talented players who look the part. ‘Winners’ also get a much better press then they deserve around this time of year.
I’ve only ever mocked Mallett to Seattle once – the same week Schneider attended his pro-day. In reality I’ve never felt it was a probability, but I’ll come back to that in a moment.
I’ve watched hours and hours of Arkansas tape from 2009 and 2010 and I’m completely comfortable with my assessment on Mallett. There isn’t a quarterback in this class who comes close to matching his ability to dissect a defense, progress through reads and make incredible down field plays. He’s a game-changing quarterback who’s equally capable of leading a sustained scoring drive as he is an 60-yard bomb for six points. He made significant improvements on a number of levels in 2010 and that was represented in vastly improved statistics including completion percentage.
I can’t stress enough how much of a positive it will be for him coming out of that Bobby Petrino system at Arkansas. It’s not the hindrance some people believe and the reason Brian Brohm failed in the NFL was because he had limited physical talent, not because he was well coached in college. Unlike Newton, Gabbert and nearly every other quarterback in the NCAA, Mallett has been trusted to run an offense by making calls at the line, changing plays based on a defensive scope and he’s looked the part of a pro-QB. It’s one of the things people talk about when praising Andrew Luck but a lot of his audibles are pre-designed and scripted. Had he declared for this draft, Mallett would grade higher in this section. Of course, there are many others areas where Luck has a better grade.
What I don’t like about Mallett is pretty similar to most people, but less exaggerated. His mobility is a negative but not something that’ll define his career. He has shown the ability to avoid pressure and still complete plays, as emphasised in a big win over Texas A&M with Von Miller rushing off the edge. Mallett’s also more than capable of running a boot leg or play action, but as most have diagnosed he will have to be a pure pocket passer and nobody expects anything different. What you see at Arkansas is what you’re going to get in the NFL.
The thing that bothered me the most about Mallett is how sloppy he gets when pressure arrives. It bugs me more than the technical issues with footwork and repositioning. There are far too many head scratching plays where he’s tried to force the pass mid-sack or has wildly tossed the ball into coverage. Indeed for every 2-3 world class down field throws there is at least one unbelievably confusing decision. Personally I can live with that because it’s a manageable trait, but he isn’t a flawless decision maker and there are going to be turnovers or lost drives along with the stunning game-changing qualities.
So why do I doubt he’ll be a Seahawks quarterback? For starters I think he’s a perfect fit at #15 for Miami who desperately need a quarterback. Yes, they invested in Chad Henne but when given the opportunity to start he has failed – simple as that. There is no strong financial attachment to the guy considering he was a late second round pick. He has been part of the Dolphins franchise for three years now and he’s not made a convincing case for any further starting time. You don’t make a big splash on Brandon Marshall and tolerate bad quarterback play.
Mallett-to-Marshall seems like too much of a good fit. While the draft world sees Mark Ingram as a lock at #15, really the Dolphins’ issues shouldn’t be placed at the feet of their two running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. Miami could easily address the running back position later in the draft which is something that cannot be said for this class of quarterbacks.
Although I touted the possibility of a trade up – and it may only cost Seattle the #25, #57 and perhaps some change to get as high as #11-#13 – I suspect they won’t be putting their eggs in the Mallett basket. Pete Carroll has stressed mobility at quarterback on more than one occasion, including his end of season press conference. They invested draft stock in Charlie Whitehurst who is, if nothing else, a strong armed and mobile quarterback.
Many people believe the introduction of Darrell Bevell as offensive coordinator signals the return to a pure west coast offense in the Mike Holmgren style. I disagree strongly with that, but I do expect to see an offense in the image of a Philadelphia Eagles or Minnesota Vikings outfit where Bevell had much more input and control. Both teams have always had mobile quarterbacks (McNabb, Vick, Kolb, Jackson, Webb) and only a brief flirtation with Brett Favre as Minnesota chased a title detracts from that.
You could argue Bevell’s ability to adapt for Favre shows it could be done in Seattle for Mallett. The greater evidence suggests that Carroll and Bevell will look for a quarterback with mobility first and foremost.
Carroll has also stressed that the running game must become the focal point of the offense. This further links back to the quarterback position through the threat of a boot leg developing into a scramble and how that fits into the zone blocking scheme. Mallett is more than capable of running a boot leg but no team is ever going to concern themselves with a streaking Ryan Mallett galloping towards the original line of scrimmage.
I see an argument that points to the quarterbacks Carroll worked with in USC, most of which were pure pocket passers. This isn’t USC though and it’s not as easy to acquire 5-star talent on an annual basis to place around the quarterback.
The character arguments on Mallett were over blown in my opinion and certainly I would say he’s had a great deal of success improving his image this off season. I appreciate that goes against everything else written in the media, but that’s how I read the situation anyway. Even so, is Ryan Mallett really the poster boy for Carroll’s ‘all-in’ programme? The face of his latest excursion into the NFL? For whatever reason Mallett-to-Miami just appears a better fit than Mallett-to-Seattle.
I also appreciate the counter to this argument. Carroll has said to the media that while the quarterback is obviously the most important position, he doesn’t want the play of the quarterback to define the team’s success or failure. There’s no reason why the face of the franchise can’t be a great running game organised by Mallett but clearly they will need a permanent secure starter at QB. Aggressively pursuing Brandon Marshall, signing Lendale White, giving another chance to Reggie and Mike Williams, trading for Marshawn Lynch. To some extent drafting Ryan Mallett would fit the trend if you consider the character concerns surrounding that quintet.
There’s a counter to pretty much every reason why Seattle won’t show serious interest in Mallett, but my hunch is that he’ll a.) be off the board before #25 and b.) the Seahawks won’t trade up to get him.
I still suspect the Seahawks would prefer Jake Locker. He offers the mobility and the big arm. He has the character to fit into the ‘all-in’ programme. I suspect Carroll would love the local boy story line which is Hollywood enough to remind him of California. He was also gushing in his praise of Locker during the USC days and the two are clearly close even if it’s only on a personal level due to the ties with coach Sarkisian at Washington.
For everyone who points to the accuracy problems Locker has – this is a team that traded for Charlie Whitehurst. Accuracy isn’t his strong point and he struggles to move off the hot read, staring down receivers. This is a team that stood by a veteran quarterback that threw 17 interceptions during the regular season compared to just 12 touchdowns – and they announced his re-signing was a priority when the season ended.
If Jake Locker is there at #25, you may have to prepare to say ‘welcome’ to the next great hope at quarterback. I’ve projected for weeks that Locker will be drafted by Washington at #10 or following a small trade down the board. I still think the Seahawks would have to trade up for that opportunity to draft the local product and it’s something I wouldn’t rule out.
And while I’m making one ludicrous, speculative suggestion towards the end of this long winded piece – why not try another? I’m not even sure the Seahawks will consider drafting a quarterback. Sure there will be exceptions and absolutely it would be a policy I completely disagree with. However, the team ignored the position last year albeit with a weak class and limited opportunities. Instead they make a big trade for a 28-year-old backup and sign JP Losman. They reportedly courted Kevin Kolb and Trent Williams Edwards.
We’ve all seen the speculation this off season linking Seattle with Kolb (again) and Carson Palmer with both deals involving first round picks.
Maybe this is just another hunch but if the policy is to compete and as quickly as possible, perhaps the preference will be to trade for a high profile veteran who can start for several years allowing the team to develop a long term replacement over time? Trading for Kolb may be viewed as the long term option anyway. Pete Carroll wouldn’t be the first coach not willing to hand the keys over to a rookie or young starter. I’m sure he’d make an exception for Andrew Luck or another similar player, but it really wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle avoided the quarterback position completely this month and addressed the situation immediately whenever free agency and trades are back on the agenda.
Again, it’s not a tactic I necessarily agree with but can anyone tell me it’s not a logical suggestion?
Tuesday draft links
Dan Kelly is off to a great start at Field Gulls
and I’ll be working with Dan over the next few weeks (and hopefully Brandon, Kip Earlywine and Kyle Rota) to combine for the best possible Seahawks draft coverage across the numerous blogs we all write.
Todd McShay runs through his top-five quarterbacks: