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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ryan Mallett Scouting Report

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas, 6’6 247 lbs


Mallett audibling at the line of scrimmage
Strengths: No quarterback in the 2011 NFL draft throws a more impressive football than Ryan Mallett. Mallett can make every NFL caliber throw with zip and accuracy. Close to 6’7, Mallett has one of the highest releases in football and has no trouble seeing over the line. Playing in Bobby Petrino’s pro-style spread offense; Ryan Mallett made calls and checks at the line of scrimmage.

While at Arkansas, Mallett threw for 7,000 plus yards and 60 plus touchdowns in just two seasons. Mallett over his career averaged nearly 30 yards per touchdown pass (29.6), which is the highest in SEC history. Since 2009, Mallett has led the FBS in 30 yard or more pass completions. I could list out the extraordinary accomplishments of Ryan Mallett at Arkansas, but here is a link to check out once you finish reading this article.

Mallett’s ability to drive the football down the football field on intermediate to deep throws, most visibly shows his NFL caliber arm. When he is comfortable in the pocket, Mallett is extremely accurate throwing intermediate to deep routes. He goes through his progressions, scanning the whole field in a number of his passing plays, and generally does a good job of keeping his eyes downfield. The ability to diagnose a defense and make the proper reads is a “must have” attribute in the NFL. This is one of the reasons why Mallett could be considered the most “NFL Ready QB”.

From 2009 to 2010, there was noticeable improvement in Ryan Mallett’s game, particularly with his footwork, accuracy, and decision-making. His 3 step, 5 step, and 7 step drops looked much more refined and smoother in 2010; Mallett still has questions in this regard, but that will be developed later in the report.
What consistently stood out to me and popped up continually in my film notes, was Mallett’s footwork and comfort in the rollout passing game; some of his best plays came on rollouts and PA fakes. He keeps the same zip and quick release on rollout passes and was very effective.

In each of his three collegiate seasons, Mallett improved his accuracy by raising his completion percentage from 44.3% in 2008, to 55.8% in 2009, and finally up to 64.7% in 2010. The improved touch on short to intermediate routes can be the main reason for this rise; Mallett last season, albeit inconsistent at times, completed a number of short drag and crossing patterns that had previously gave him trouble. Still, the increased completion percentage might draw skepticism that he just started throwing more shorter and easier routes. I would answer that yes and no. Yes to shorter routes, because Mallett finally showed the competency of checking down and not forcing wild throws. No to shorter routes, because somehow, Mallett sported a 14.5 yards per completion clip, and nobody in FBS had more passes of 70 yards or more (5).

Ryan Mallett digested one of the most difficult and lengthy offensive playbooks in the country in Bobby Petrino's Pro-stye Spread offense. No player was more responsible at the line of scrimmage with pre-snap reads, check-downs, and audibles. Mallett knows how to attack each and every coverage he sees at the line of scrimmage, where his read progressions are, and NFL concepts necessary to be successful. For more on Bobby Petrino's offense, see this Sugar Bowl preview… 
Mallett's off field questions and inconsistency
Weaknesses: As mentioned before, Mallett made huge strides in raising his completion percentage, going to his check downs more, and improving his footwork. With that being said, Mallett still has very serious issues as a prospect.

I’m not going to delve into his off the field rumors and issues, but claims over former drug use and hard partying can’t excite you as an evaluator. Nevertheless, I have no more info than the rest of fans do, so I can’t play judge and jury.

Mallett’s biggest issue is his inability to win big games. Similarly to Peyton Manning back at Tennessee when he could never beat the Florida Gators, Ryan Mallett could not beat the Alabama Crimson Tide. Late in games, Mallett overly trusts his rocket arm and decides that he will emphatically throw the football through two cement walls, one car, a truck, and three defenders.

I will give him a pass on one of the interceptions he threw against Alabama, as he attempted to throw the ball safely out of bounds; but for the most part, Mallett’s decision making at the end of games is maddening. As great as he will play throughout the course of the game, when it mattered most, he struggled under the pressure.

This is where Mallett’s footwork reverts back to his old form- under pressure, with the pocket collapsing, and late in football games. Mallett’s technique and football IQ is nowhere to be found at these stages of the game, and it’s the strangest thing to watch, because not but five minutes earlier in the game, he was throwing a perfectly placed touchdown pass. With that being said, inconsistency is Ryan Mallett’s biggest flaw, followed by an inability to close out big games.


Best Fit: A number of teams are in search for a quarterback right now, but without a CBA in place, teams are unable to acquire free agents and/or trade with other teams. So if no deal is cut, then Ryan Mallett’s draft stock could soar into the top 20 or so teams, where many teams are in the market for a signal caller.

Seattle, Miami, and Minnesota to me, are the best fits. Each of the three teams has star talent at the wide receiver position (Seattle- Mike Williams, Golden Tate. Miami- Brandon Marshall, Davone Bess. Minnesota- Percy Harvin, possibly Sidney Rice if he returns), and each of the three teams like to run the ball effectively. The wealth of receivers and relative draft area are the main reasons why these are the best fits. Seattle at pick 25, is in perfect position to lock up Ryan Mallett, whose stock has seemingly dropped out of the first round. If they see him becoming their franchise quarterback, then they have to take him there. Miami at pick 15 is in great shape to trade down into late 1st, early 2nd range, garner more picks and also draft Ryan Mallett. The same goes for Minnesota with trading down and getting more picks. Coach Les Frazier of the Vikings specifically stated in the offseason that he was looking for that “Joe Flacco or Matt Ryan” type of quarterback. Ryan Mallett compares very closely with Joe Flacco, and if Frazier really does want that big, strong-armed thrower, then Ryan Mallett is the way to go.

Out of all the quarterback's in the 2011 draft class, Mallett skills and football IQ make him the best prepared and NFL-ready. Now off-field questions have to be answered in interviews, but I have a good feeling that Mallett will be a solid player at the next level.

X-Factor: The drug issues….Ryan Mallett dodged them in media interviews, and has sparked a lot of debate amongst NFL Draft experts. He needs to be candid, honest, and apologetic with teams if the rumors are fact, and teams have to be positive that these issues are behind him.

Where will he be drafted: Picks 10-32: mid to late First round

Where should he be drafted: First round

NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore Ravens

Ryan Mallett draft preview from FoxSports

Ryan Mallett highlights (from Michigan and Arkansas)

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