2011 NFL Draft: Is Ryan Mallett the Next Ben Roethlisberger?

Nick SeroCorrespondent IIIMarch 3, 2011

Is "Big Tex" the next "Big Ben"?
Is "Big Tex" the next "Big Ben"?Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

If you are like me, you are glued to the 2011 NFL scouting combine on the NFL Network. It seems like every year the media finds a way to make a bunch of college kids running around playing catch in their shorts entertaining.

There are a few high profile quarterbacks in this year's draft, one a Heisman winner, a few MLB prospects and a guy they call "Big Tex."

Cam Newton is obviously the Heisman winner and is lauded for his athletic ability and playmaking, both of which helped Auburn win a national championship. There have been comparisons of Cam Newton's play to that of two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Is Cam really the most similar to Big Ben, or is it a guy nicknamed "Big Tex" that could be the most similar to the Steelers quarterback?

Roethlisberger is a listed at 6'5", 241 pounds, and Mallett stands eerily similar at 6'6", 238 pounds. Both quarterbacks possess top-notch arm strength, an uncanny ability to break a tackle (thanks to that size) and they both even seem to carry themselves the same.

Roethlisberger was drafted 11th overall in the 2004 NFL draft, the third quarterback taken that day. Mallett isn't currently expected to break the first round and is listed as the fourth quarterback in this year's draft.

Ahead of Mallett are Newton, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert and Washington's Jake Locker. So far, no quarterback has had a stellar performance at the combine, but some unimpressive showings from the top three quarterbacks has teams looking at Mallett.

There are a few NFL teams facing quarterback uncertainty, if not this year than in the future. In most mock drafts, you will read you will see Mallett dropping to the second round and going to teams like Cincinnati, Carolina, Cleveland or Seattle.

But it is too soon to count Mallett out of the first round.

Ben Roethlisberger also wowed in the NFL scouting combine helping to make him a near top-10 pick. Things have worked well for Big Ben even though he hailed from a small MAC school. Roethlisberger has won two Super Bowls and is arguably the best big-game passer in the game at this point.

As much success the Steelers quarterback has had in his career, he has had his fair share of off-the-field drama.

Roethlisberger's identity clearly shifted after he was drafted and became a starting quarterback. When Roethlisberger first came out for the NFL draft, he had high regards for his personality and intelligence.

Many forget now that Roethlisberger made news after being fined for writing "Play For Jesus" on his sneakers.

Ryan Mallett does not share that background with Roethlisberger. The former Arkansas quarterback has faced questions on his previous drug use throughout the 2011 combine and Mallett has one poor media appearance under his belt. There are questions on his departure from Michigan, where Mallett reportedly had a falling out with the coaching staff, and similar issues faced him at Arkansas.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made it to the Super Bowl this past year despite their quarterback missing the first four games of the season. Ben is in a position now, however, that if he finds himself in trouble again, he could miss an entire season.

Is Ryan Mallett's ability not enough to overrule his liability?

Mallett by no means is the first prospective NFL athlete to face character issues. Dan Marino had similar drug questions when he entered the draft. Mallett certainly has the ability to be a future star in the NFL, but teams have seen how commissioner Roger Goodell reacts to off-the-field issues and may be hesitant to invest first-round money on a quarterback with a drug history.

So the question remains: Is Ryan Mallett the next Ben Roethlisberger? And is that even a good thing?