Mallett, Locker, Seattle and avoiding quarterbacks

April 4th, 2011 | Written by Rob Staton

Ryan Mallett with last year's #25 overall pick

Ryan Mallett will spend the next two days in Seattle as he continues to meet teams ahead of the draft. It appears he’s travelled with Michigan tight end Martell Webb who may also be working out for the Seahawks.
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
Pat Kirwan at NFL.com says he’s changed his opinion on Jake Locker and sees him as a first round talent. For those of you not aware, Kirwan is a close friend of Pete Carroll. When he writes, “I also reached out to a current NFL head coach who needs a quarterback in this draft and was kind enough to share his thoughts on Locker” and “I think Locker should be a late first-round pick, and I know two head coaches who agree with me” it’s easy to make the assumption, even if it’s a predictably average one.
I recently participated in a two-round interactive mock draft with several other draft writers for NFL Mocks. I made the picks for a number of teams including the Seahawks. I’m guessing people will react differently to my two-picks for Seattle.
Brandon Adams writes an excellent piece on the team’s future at quarterback and why it’s time to move on from the Matt Hasselbeck era.
Dan Kelly is off to a great start at Field Gullsand 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.
Charles Davis has an updated mock draft, most of which I disagree with. I can’t see Anthony Castonzo to Miami, Prince Amukamara going that early or Corey Liuget lasting to #25.
Brian McIntyre reports information that suggests the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are using agents to try and compile their own ‘mock draft’ ahead of April 28th.
Todd McShay runs through his top-five quarterbacks:

22 Responses to “Mallett, Locker, Seattle and avoiding quarterbacks”

  1. If PC truly believes that mobility is a more important QB trait than accuracy and ability to read a defense, then I have serious doubts about his future as Seattle’s coach. I’m still hoping that the Whitehurst acquisition was more a swindling of an over-eager John Schneider than a statement on Carroll’s preferred QB profile.

    BTW Trent Williams was a tackle…think you meant Edwards. ;)

    Enjoy Jamaica you lucky so-and-so!

  2. tompage says:

    You got my blood boiling with your nflmocks.com mock draft. The Seahawks were #27 in Total Defense in 2010. The offensive line was a mess and contributed to the Seahawks finishing #31 in rushing. We have all these problems and we take a QB and a wide receiver in the first two rounds? This scenario seems pretty remote to me.

    • Charlie says:

      With all the areas the Seahawks need to upgrade, how can your blood be boiling with the Seahawks coming out of the draft with one if the first round rated qbs at 25? More than arguably the most important position in football, I understand the argument for a linemen in the second, but if there’s not a prospect worth taking then you shoulda go bpa

    • kevin mullen says:

      If the draft fell that way, I’d love the Locker to Titus Young bombs all day long. I thought the Titus Young pick was very interesting, a poor man’s DeShaun Jackson. We do need to stretch the field and with Butler’s current injury, not a bad pickup. Butler might not even make the roster next year and with Titus Young in the fold, makes for a compelling case.

      I like it, make the opponents adjust to us, rather than us to them. I’d be excited with those two picks.

    • Rob says:

      Was quarterback not an issue then, Tom?

  3. Caleb says:

    Great write up rob, appreciate you taking time out of your vacation. Two things: a) Jake locker is much more of a project qb and needs to sit and learn behind a veteran more than mallet would. His hometown hero status would be extremely heavy to bear also, that’s alot of weight for a 24 year old. He also fits the bill too perfectly for the skins not to take him, plus they have a veteran he can learn from too. B) about your community mock draft, can you rationalize Titus young for me? With all our needs on the OL and at CB, taking a receiver, albeit a talented, one seems a little frivolous, but I am very interested. Thanks again for the good read!

    • I’m fine with the positions chosen. An offense that can’t keep up will be forced to abandon the run (ergo the bad running stats, at least partially) and will leave a defense playing uphill against an opposing team with the luxury to run and be unpredictable. Seattle’s run game and defense were handicapped by Hasselbeck’s struggles as much as they were any other factor.

      That said, I don’t see Locker as a solution. But that’s just me. I do find it hard to pass the guy up if he falls to #25.

      • Caleb says:

        Yes it is enticing, but to tell our offense that they have to play catchup because of an ignored defense, and with a rookie qb and inexperienced wide outs doesn’t seem logical. Pc and co said the games are won at the line, and I would be shocked if we don’t take a D or O liner with our 1st or 2nd. Don’t get me wrong, I would love me some locker-to-young for 15 touchdowns a season, but we need day one starters, and if a quality guard like pouncey is there at 25, I can’t see the hawks passing on him. Also, in round tow, if jabal sheard got that close, I see the hawks trading up. He’s a big prospect and would help our annually crippled d-line.

  4. Glen says:

    “…no team is ever going to concern themselves with a streaking Ryan Mallett galloping towards the original line of scrimmage.”

    Great line, gave me a good laugh. I have be high on Mallett dispute the off field unsubstantiated rumors. I know you put it as a long a shot but I really think it may be likely we avoid QB again and attack when FA opens up.

    Any team in the top 10 that may pass on a QB for a better quality player is surely going to be looking and evaluating the QB as rd 1 goes by. If Locker &/or Mallett make it to the Colts or Saints those are 2 teams that could acquire more picks and allow a team to get back ahead of Seattle for a QB. Oddly, I am ok with this although QB needs to be addressed. With some many teams investing in QBs this year I’ll be curious to know what that would do to the QB market next year…definitely something I am going to dig into…2004 was a big year with many QB needy teams and lots of other young QBs on rosters which in some fashion attributed to Aaron Rodgers slide.

    Enjoy Jamacia Rob!

  5. kevin mullen says:

    Although addressing the QB position is long over due, (hindsight: we should have drafted Mark Sanchez) I’m not a fan of packaging our first day picks and possibly 4th rd pick to move up and address that ONE position. We have a ton of holes everywhere and would rather have the ‘Hawks improve both lines.

    That said, if say Locker fell to us at #25, I’d be okay for that. Love the local kid and I know that if Hasselbeck resigned, I think he’d actually tutor him to succeed. We all know Hass’s dislikes for 1st rd QB’s, but Locker isn’t that ego type (and probably would be enamored of Matt) and having the three amigos: Hasselbeck, Locker, Whitehurst isn’t bad trio by no means.

    I still think there’s some play for Matt once FA begins, and we all know where he wants to retire. If not, I think Whitehurst can do the job once we draft some pieces for our run game. After all, he did win us a playoff berth and division title, can’t take that away from him…

  6. Matt says:

    Great read per usual. I could see this going many different directions and won’t be surprised by what happens. Who knows, maybe they realize there needs to be a true rebuild and they take what they can now and maybe sell the farm next year to try to get Luck thinking they will be that much closer.

    Obviously Luck is pipe dream but I would not put anything past JS and PC when it comes to getting the guy they want.

  7. Kamal says:

    In your multi partnered mock you drafted jake over pouncey and liuget this seems to fly on the face of everything you have said before, unless you belive jake to be the answer at qb

    • Rob says:

      Not really, because I don’t think Locker will be there at #25. I’ve always suspected the Seahawks would like to draft him and clearly answering the QB dilemma is the team’s most pressing issue. While I’m a big fan of both Pouncey and Liuget, I had to ask whether I felt the Seahawks would like Locker enough to pull the trigger and at #25 I thought they might.

  8. woofu says:

    As I’ve said elsewhere and I’ll stick to it, Mallett is perhaps the most talented Qb of them all from many points of view. If he has a 10 cent head (Billick on Ryan Leaf comparrison), more teams than not will pass and he’ll be there at @25. His availability @25 would scare me off because that would mean all those Qb hungry/desperate teams
    thought he had a 10 cent head. If they don’t think or “believe” he has a dime brain, he’ll never make it to #25.

    Honestly, w/o a CBA and FA before the draft anything can and probably will happen, including things we never even imagined possible.

  9. Matt says:

    Rob (in Jamaica), do you think the young QB issue is one that the Hawks will always avoid, or do you think it’s just this year?

    The most frustrating part for me as a Seattle fan in general is a lack of aggressiveness and risk taking by front offices. Not that I’m all about taking stupid risks, but it would be nice to find a young QB to build around and have a large window of opportunity to win a Super Bowl. Of course I’d hate for us to swing and miss on a QB, but I’d be more than content if that “miss” happened because we were swinging for the fences rather than “not to strike out.” It’s been a growing frustration for me as I think it’s more than obvious that “great QB play” is the surest way to win a super bowl, not drafting a bunch of O-lineman in round 1 and plugging in a mediocre QB.

    Not to kiss butt Rob, but just wanted to pass along appreciation for your work. I used to have several sites I’d frequent to get in depth scouting information, but so many of them are just “losing it” now (cough Walterfootball). Your unique perspective and unwavering stance on your beliefs is refreshing and the dialogue with fellow readers is always a pleasant break from my day to day work.

    • Rob says:

      I think it really emphasies how little we know (still) about the new regime. Honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if Seattle made an incredible trade way up the board and invested in a big name QB this year. If we don’t draft a quarterback at all – I’ll be equally unsurprised.

      It really depends on the willingness of Carroll to trust his latest stint in the NFL on a rookie or young, unproved QB. He’s taken calculated risks so far, but really they were all high percentage moves. Signing Mike Williams after a try out is a nothing to lose situation. Likewise when you get a young, former first round running back for a fourth round pick. They looked at moves for Brandon Marshall, but never pulled the trigger.

      All are exciting moves for a fanbase but when you actually think about it, Carroll really only kept his options open. He preaches win forever, all-in, compete on and off the field. I don’t think it’s a total stretch to suggest the guy who replaces Hasselbeck (whether that’s this year or next or whenever) is going to be a veteran. When Carroll has established his formula to the fullest and is winning, perhaps they see that as a perfect environment to invest in the young buck?

      Really this is only thinking out loud, but it makes some sense. Admittedly I’m totally against it because there are plenty of teams out there who have made bold moves with young quarterbacks and built for the long haul. Trading high picks for a Palmer or Kolb carry only as much pressure because people demand instant gratification. If the team trades high picks for Palmer and he struggles, the wrath will be huge. I suspect if the team does draft a rookie QB early there will be greater patience even if it isn’t eternal.

      So really I don’t have the answer to this but the draft should explain it all.

      Also – thank you for the kind words Matt. Truly it’s completely mutual because coming onto the blog every day and being able to talk draft is why this place exists. Without those of you who read the blog and post comments, it’d just be me posting long winded posts that nobody ever sees. I am eternally grateful to those of you who visit regularly and all I can ask is please continue to drop by. I take no financial gain from writing this blog and I don’t feel the need to because it’s a pleasure to produce.

  10. Jerry Nice says:

    Love the picks you chose for the Hawks. Yes, there are a million holes to fill on this team, but Schneider and Carroll have been adamant about getting a true #1 WR (Jackson, Marshall, etc.), and upgrading the QB position. I would be doing BACKFLIPS if this is how the draft panned out (in the first two rounds at least)…

  11. Scott says:

    I like the thinking here Rob. Everyone panicking about ignoring areas of need to take a QB and WR, settle. Free agency is still out there, lurking, and waiting to fill areas of need. The order is reversed this year, with the draft first, which I too often forget while projecting draft needs vs. BPA.

  12. Misfit74 says:

    If Mallett is there at #25 he’s ours. If it requires a minor trade-up to ensure we get a franchise QB I’m all for it. I think Mallett can be better than Sanchez or Stafford of recent years and we’re only talking about him being available at #25 because of the major depth of D-line, QB, and pass-rushers in general stacking this first round.

    I’d settle for Kapernick or Ponder but I don’t see either making it to our 2nd-round pick.