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Despite some freakish God-given talent, Ryan Mallett has been flying under the radar lately, hard to do for a man of his stature.
With Blaine Gabbert declaring, some have Blaine as Top 5 pick (which I disagree with). And, Cam Newton can never seem to escape the media spotlight and as highly debated as his career at Auburn has been, his NFL prospects will be another heated debate over the next few months.
So, where does this leave Ryan Mallett?
Mallett performed very well during his time at Arkansas. Under coach Bobby Petrino, Mallett threw for 62 touchdowns and 18 wins. He also displayed an appreciation for the deep ball, averaging over nine yards per attempt while at Arkansas.
And let's not forget, Mallett is blessed with a cannon and ideal size at 6'6" and 238 lbs.. But, that's not everything in being a quarterback.
Mallett's biggest weakness, in my opinion, is his pocket presence. I've said this multiple times before and will continue to say it, he is a statue in the pocket. Mallett doesn't move his feet and doesn't seem to understand where the pressure is coming from. That's a recipe for disaster. In the past two seasons, Mallett has been sacked 49 times. Amongst the five quarterbacks I'm talking about, that's the highest total. Arkansas' offensive line isn't the greatest, but it's not by any means terrible. Mallett simply holds onto the ball too long and like I stated early, just doesn't seem to understand where the pressure is coming from.
Another knock against Mallett is the offense he is coming from. Some want to list this as a strength and say he is coming from a pro-style system. But, Bobby Petrino has yet to produce a quality NFL signal-caller and runs a very simple offense. Sure, Mallett drops back from under center and lines up in a fair amount of traditional two back sets, but the routes just aren't very complex. They are generally simple and ask for the quarterback to read only one side of the field. Despite coming from a "pro-style offense," Mallett has a learning curve that he'll need to make up in order to find NFL success.
There are also concerns about Mallett's accuracy. He puts good touch on deep passes and displays good ball placement, but he is inconsistent when throwing short. Mallett has the arm to make all the throws, but doesn't consistently follow through his mechanics and needs to improve his short to intermediate accuracy.
The final knock on Mallett, and this is a potentially big one, is concerns about his character. There has been concerns about his body language as well as a few big games where he has failed to perform at the end. He also struggled in both his bowl games while at Arkansas. Mallett also was arrested as a red-shirt sophomore, after public intoxication. There has also been rumors that he shares some of the same "habits," a la drug use, as former Arkansas star Matt Jones, but I'm not in the business to decipher truth from rumors. But, it's a concern nonetheless that NFL teams will have to conduct their due diligence on.
It's to truly evaluate Mallett because he has a lot of things you crave in terms of arm strength and the ability to push the ball deep, but is lacking fundamental areas that make a great quarterback. He needs a lot of work, and I currently grade him as a mid-late second-rounder. He reminds me of Drew Bledsoe, but less polished coming out of school and a much more checkered past.