I haven’t had Ryan Mallett in my mock drafts for a while. A few people have asked why, so it’s only fair to explain my thinking. After all – I’ve been very positive about Mallett in the past.
The first thing I want to discuss is the overall improvement Mallett has made this year. That hasn’t been reported as well it perhaps should be. Coming into the 2010 CFB season people loved to talk about his inconsistency and his inability to win tough games on the road.
Some of those concerns were legitimate. In 2009, he completed 56% of his passes. However – against tougher opposition he really struggled. In defeats to Florida, LSU and Ole Miss he averaged just a 41% completion rate. His numbers were significantly helped by big wins over Troy, Missouri State and Eastern Michigan. None of his seven regular season wins were on the road.
That clearly played some part in Mallett’s decision not to declare for the 2010 draft. It was never revealed what feedback he received from the NFL draft committee and when asked about that experience Mallett wasn’t entirely forthcoming. The critics were sceptical about his prospects this year, but let’s look at his improvements:
-Mallett has increased his pass completion percentage from 56% to 67% in 2010
-His overall QB rating has improved from 152.5 last year to 162.9 in 2010
- Mallett led Arkansas to impressive wins on the road against Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina
People who wanted Mallett to become a more accurate passer, continue to develop and win on the road should be satisfied by his achievements so far this year. It’s not a faultless performance – there are still concerns with his footwork, specifically how he plants his feet under pressure and sets to throw. His fourth quarter meltdown against Alabama prevented the opportunity to beat the #1 ranked team in the country at the time.
However, Arkansas’ only other defeat came in a shoot-out against unbeaten Cam Newton and Auburn – a game Mallett left early after suffering a concussion. The ease in which Mallett helped knock off South Carolina last weekend was particularly impressive.
It’s not difficult to see what positives Mallett brings to the table as a pro-QB. He has incredible arm strength – you may never see a better arm. His release point is high above his 6’7″ frame and he snaps the ball out as quickly as you’d hope. He’s not a statue like some might claim and he’s more than capable of moving around in the pocket – he just needs a little bit more composure and some basic tweaks in his footwork.
His overall accuracy is fine although not elite. He’s got good enough touch on fades, he can fit the ball into some really tight windows with excellent velocity and of course he’s capable of making stunning deep throws for huge gains. He can make ‘all the throws’ as they say and I have no doubt what so ever that from a talent standpoint he can’t continue to put up eye catching numbers in the NFL.
If you were to ask me for a grade on his on-the-field performance, I would say top-15 for sure. So why isn’t he in the mock draft?
The issue I have is a little unspecific. Maybe it’s unfair? The old saying goes ‘there’s no smoke without fire’.
On the 23rd September, Wes Bunting from the NFP tweeted the following:
I talked to a scout the other day that said “I got stuff on Mallett that nobody knows about” there are a lot of concerns on him personally
The feeling down in Arkansas is that he’s just a different type of person
Major character issues will eventually surface regarding Ryan Mallett. Let’s just say that he won’t be too focused when watching game film at the next level.
Now it would be unfair for me to basically declare a red flag based on the comments of a few high-profile draft pundits. I’ve watched Mallett in games and in interviews and there is a petulant side to his character. In the Texas A&M victory, he was mouthing off to coaches and lashed out at an opponent. He sometimes loses focus in games. In his interviews, you don’t get the impression he’s ‘switched on’ like other top QB picks such as Sam Bradford or Mark Sanchez. He comes across a little immature.
It will take more than that to send Mallett spiralling into a draft day fall. Having said that – teams will sit down with him at the combine and expect to see a guy who blows them away in meetings. I’m not sure that will happen and that’s when concerns might arise.
Let’s look at the options and try to explain why I have him falling in my mock draft. It’s unlikely either way that he’ll be picked in the top 1-7, but what about after that?
- Arizona (9th overall) could do with a quarterback but are they likely to gamble on a first round QB with potential character issues after busting with Matt Leinart? I’m not sure.
- Minnesota (10th overall) might consider a quarterback in R1 next year, but if the current coaching staff remain I expect Tavaris Jackson to probably start.
- Seattle (12th overall) I have selecting Jake Locker.
- Washington (13th overall) are a legitimate option, but might look at other areas of the team this early particularly if Donovan McNabb remains the starter.
After these four, I see only #24 Kansas City as potentially looking at QB, but they have won with Matt Cassel this year and don’t seem like a logical fit for Mallett based on scheme or character.
If the character issues are enough to put off teams in the top-15 picks – where the gamble is much higher – then it’s not unrealistic that he could drop into round two. Although Mallett is a much better prospect overall than Jimmy Clausen, that is one of the reasons we saw the Notre Dame QB drop into round two last April.
Eventually teams at the top of the second round will have to pay attention. I could see a logical home for Mallett in Buffalo or Cincinnati. Some of the teams who went elsewhere in round one would seriously consider Mallett at a reduced cost with less expectation (eg Washington or Arizona).
In future mocks I may include Mallett in round one. As I’ve explained, I think the talent (if not the character) warrants that selection. However, it’s easy to see why he might suffer a slight fall next April.