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Ryan Mallett 2011 NFL Draft: Where Does Mallett Stand in This Year's Arms Race?

Zachary D. RymerMLB Lead WriterJanuary 6, 2011

Ryan Mallett 2011 NFL Draft: Where Does Mallett Stand in This Year's Arms Race?

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Ryan Mallett has declared for the 2011 NFL Draft, throwing his name into a hat that already includes such quarterback stars as Cam Newton, Jake Locker and Blaine Gabbert.

    With Andrew Luck announcing his decision to stay at Stanford for one more season, exactly who is the top NFL quarterback prospect is rather debatable.

    Mallett definitely has a very strong arm, but there are concerns about his accuracy and his pocket presence. Gabbert has all the tools, but he didn't really play well down the stretch. Newton has raw talent, but may not be cut out to be an NFL quarterback. And so on.

    So in other words, it's wide open. That's why we have gone ahead and ranked the Top 10 quarterbacks in this year's draft class. After this, there will be no arguing.

    Enjoy.

10. Colin Kaepernick

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,830 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs, 154.21 rating

    Strengths: freakish athleticism, mobility

    Weaknesses: really only knows the pistol offense

    Colin Kaepernick put up some pretty ridiculous numbers throughout his career at Nevada, and you could argue that he is perhaps the most underrated player of the last decade or so.

    As far as his NFL prospects are concerned, he'd be a perfect fit for a team looking to use the pistol offense exclusively. Nevada head coach Chris Ault invented the darn thing, and Kaepenick ran it better than anyone.

    But that's asking a lot. He'll have to adapt to a pro-style offense like every other quarterback, and is thus a huge project. Moreover, his arm strength and accuracy are just average. It's possible that he could slip pretty far in the draft.

9. Pat Devlin

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,812 yards, 18 TDs, 2 INTs

    Strengths: quick release, touch

    Weaknesses: not very polished, very inconsistent

    Pat Devlin transferred from Penn State to Delaware in 2008, which is probably why you might not be familiar with his name.

    Devlin has the right kind of size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) to be an NFL quarterback, and he's a fiery competitor and a good leader. He just needs to work on everything else.

    Among other things, scouts aren't sure about his accuracy, his arm strength, his anticipation and his presence in the pocket. He is very much a project player, but he could become solid if he can develop the mental part of his game.

8. Ricky Stanzi

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 3,004 yards, 25 TDs, 6 INTs, 157.63 rating

    Strengths: leadership, toughness

    Weaknesses: delivery, poise, accuracy

    Given the fact that Stanzi greatly improved this year from his showing in 2009, it might seem surprising that a lot of people are so down on him as an NFL-ready prospect.

    But concerns about Stanzi became well-founded when the Hawkeyes more or less completely fell apart down the stretch. And despite the fact they beat Missouri in the Insight Bowl, Stanzi himself didn't have a very good game.

    Stanzi does have a great arm, no doubt about that. But his wind-up delivery and poor footwork have to be corrected, and those aren't the only fundamentals that he needs to work on. Because of this, he projects as maybe a third or fourth-round pick.

7. Andy Dalton

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,857 yards, 27 TDs, 6 INTs, 166.48 rating

    Strengths: leadership, game management

    Weaknesses: size, delivery

    Andy Dalton is a born winner, there's no mistaking that. And his performance in the Rose Bowl showed that he can perform on the big stage.

    But had it not been for his success at TCU, he probably wouldn't even be in this discussion. At 6-foot-2 and barely 220 pounds, he's a little small for an NFL quarterback. Moreover, his arm strength and accuracy are merely adequate.

    Nevertheless, his sheer success at the collegiate level might make him a late second-round pick.

6. Terrelle Pryor

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,772 yards, 27 TDs, 11 INTs, 157.88 rating

    Strengths: arm strength, overall athleticism

    Weaknesses: character

    Yes, we realize that Pryor gave Jim Tressel his word that he would take his punishment like a man and return for one more season.

    But we don't trust him. After his performance in the Sugar Bowl, he should know that his value is probably as high as it's going to get.

    That being said, it would still be very surprising if Pryor went in the first-round. While nobody denies that he's a remarkable athlete, nobody seems very sure if he would make a great NFL quarterback. It seems more likely that he would go in the second round to a team dumb enough to take a chance on him (like the Raiders).

5. Christian Ponder

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,044 yards, 20 TDs, 8 INTs, 135.68 rating

    Strengths: leadership, pocket awareness

    Weaknesses durability, decision making

    It was a tough season for Ponder at Florida State. He suffered a pair on injuries, and was out of action for a couple significant games, namely the ACC Championship and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

    Scouts have some concerns about his decision making abilities and his accuracy, and his arm strength is hardly elite. But he makes up for his shortcomings by being a great competitor and leader. As such, even though his skills may not wow people, his makeup alone makes him a promising prospect.

4. Jake Locker

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,265 yards, 17 TDs, 9 INTs, 124.20 rating

    Strengths: arm strength, athleticism

    Weaknesses: decision making, touch

    Locker might have some advice for Andrew Luck right about now, as he is a quarterback who saw his No. 1 status derailed by injury and ineffectiveness in 2010.

    Despite the fact he completed just five passes, he was pretty good in the Holiday Bowl against Nebraska, and is still going to be a first-round pick.

    Locker's main strength is his arm, as he gets a lot of zip on balls. This can get him in trouble at times, as he tries to force a lot of balls, and he could stand to put more air under the ball on deep throws.

    He's likely not going to be a star right away, but he could end up being great if he continues to develop at the pro level. He'll probably go in the middle of the first round, maybe to a team like the Vikings.

3. Cam Newton

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    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 2,589 yards passing, 28 passing TDs, 6 INTs, 188.16 rating (1st in FBS), 1,409 yards rushing, 20 rushing TDs

    Strengths: arm strength, scrambling ability

    Weaknesses: lack of experience in pro-style offense, accuracy (?)

    Cam Newton was pretty good this season. In fact, he was very good. His team went undefeated, and he even won some kind of award.

    As such, he has gone from being off the radar completely to a solid first round pick. There's no denying that Newton has it where it counts when it comes to his arm, his size and his improvisational abilities.

    Concerns about Newton's accuracy appear to be much ado about nothing, but his lack of experience in a pro-style offense make him a project. He'll likely go in the middle of the first-round, or maybe earlier to a team like Tennessee.

2. Blaine Gabbert

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 3,186 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs, 127.03 rating

    Strengths: solid arm, above-average speed and quickness

    Weaknesses: lacks touch, lacks experience with pro-style offense

    Gabbert is the one player who stands to benefit the most from Andrew Luck's decision to stay in school, as many college football pundits had him as the No. 2 quarterback prospect.

    And Gabbert is definitely deserving. He's a big guy with a solid arm and very good instincts, and his excellent speed and agility are nice bonuses.

    Gabbert's arm strength isn't quite elite, however, and his accuracy can be inconsistent. He tends to try to muscle too many balls into small targets, and doesn't always take what the defense gives him.

    He was decidedly awful in Missouri's two losses this season, which might suggest that when he's bad, he's really bad. But he'll probably be a top 10 pick anyway, and might even go in the top five.

1. Ryan Mallett

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2010 Stats: 3,869 yards, 32 TDs, 12 INTs 163.65 rating

    Strengths: size, arm strength

    Weaknesses: accuracy, pocket presence

    Much of the focus in the SEC was on Cam Newton this season, and rightfully so. But Mallett also had himself a heck of a season, and he definitely cemented himself as a first-round pick in doing so.

    At 6-foot-6 and close to 240 pounds, Mallett definitely has the requisite size of an NFL quarterback. And nobody doubts his arm, as he's shown that he can make all the throws. He has also impressed with his leadership qualities and his work ethic.

    But all of Mallett's shortcomings were painfully on display in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State. His receivers didn't do him any favors by making some crucial drops, but it was also apparent that his accuracy is a little off at times. He was often a statue in the pocket.

    Nonetheless, as much as the folks at ESPN like Gabbert, Mallett seems like he has more upside.

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