Ryan Mallett: Future Vikings signal-caller?
If someone would have told a Minnesota Vikings fan pre-2010 season that their pride in purple would wind up playing an outdoor home game with a college wide receiver playing quarterback while out of playoff contention in late December, that person would have been promptly hit over the head with an encyclopedia.
But that’s how things were for the Vikings in 2010. Yes, those Vikings, the same ones who were nearly Super Bowl-bound just one season prior.
Luckily for Minnesota, things don’t have to be completely restarted. After all, the Vikings still have that Adrian Peterson dude.
But the question that fans of quarterback-less teams always ask during the offseason is: who will line up under center?
Quarterback is, and always will be, the most ballyhooed position. Few think the Vikings will reach for a quarterback in the first round with the No. 12 pick since Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert will likely already be off the board, but what will they do with No. 43? Ryan Mallett has been a name tossed around here and there.
He’s expected to still be available. Could Minnesota be plotting to swipe the high-potential QB in the second round or trade down and grab him in the first?
Let's play Vikings front office for a day and find out.
Ryan Mallett is a strong-armed quarterback with a high ceiling. Is he ready to lead a team to the promised land?
Luckily, Minnesota doesn’t necessarily need someone to make all the plays under center. Let’s revisit Adrian Peterson and make a quick parallel.
Roethlisberger was simply looked at (then) as a stop gap: hand the ball off to Jerome Bettis, rely on your defense and don’t turn the ball over. He wasn’t expected to make the awe-inspiring plays he’s since made as he’s matured (on the field, at least).
Mallett could be a similar Roethlisberger-esque situation: hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson, get the ball into the hands of Percey Harvin or Sidney Rice and get the out of the way.
Last season was a bit of an anomaly for the Vikings. They were plagued by injuries and off-the-field distractions surrounding Brett Favre. Let’s not forget that this team was winning with Tavrvaris freakin’ Jackson.
They don’t need a savior when they’ve got an all-world offensive talent in Adrian Peterson. Mallett could thrive in a situation similar to Big Ben’s.
Ryan Mallett’s never had anyone doubt his arm strength.
The 6'7", 253-pound quarterback is surely a physical specimen. The main reason his draft status has plummeted is because of off-the-field issues.
But Minnesota has benefited in the past from strong-armed quarterbacks who love to chuck it up there and let receivers go to work with the best of them (see: Cunningham, Randall; Culpepper, Daunte; Favre, Brett).
Favre, obviously, is known for more than just being a guy to toss the ball up there and hope for the best, but his career received a brief one-year rebirth in 2009 while playing catch with physically-gifted Sidney Rice and the speedy Percy Harvin.
Harvin remains, and Rice is likely to return. What’s a young, inexperienced quarterback’s best friend?
Good solid receivers. Mallett could find his groove immediately in Minnesota.
This is not a knock on Minnesota by any stretch of the imagination.
But the knock on Mallett has always been away from the field. The Batesville, Arkansas native has picked up quite a reputation as being both a “party boy” and an alleged drug user.
Perhaps his reputation is unjust, as he’s never actually failed a drug test, according to his ex-coach Bobby Petrino. But throw a ripe 22-year-old into somewhere like New York or somewhere similar where he’d face multi-pronged media assaults, it doesn’t bode well for someone with a questionable reputation.
Mallett could fly under the radar in Minnesota to some extent and help re-establish his reputation that he has already been vying to defend. That is, so long as he doesn’t pull a Brett Favre.
McNabb to Minnesota: Nothing more than a quick fix?
It’s already been said—well, here—that both the demand and ability to succeed immediately is high in Minnesota.
If the Vikings already have a stacked offensive repertoire, does it really make sense to give the proverbial keys to the Ferrari to a raw, trigger-happy rookie? Could the Vikings draft Mallett, sign or trade for a veteran to keep the seat warm for him?
But taking Mallett at No. 43 is considered a reach in most people’s eyes. Why draft for need in the NFL’s most important position if the need isn’t necessarily there?
The names don’t exactly scream “savior” on paper, but when you consider that there’s an unusually high number of available veteran arms than usual, the need to draft Mallett lessens considerably.
Consider: Donovan McNabb, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb and Vince Young are all attainable to some extent, jumping the gun on a rookie quarterback seems less likely.
Let’s just play the odds: few people think Ryan Mallett will end up in Minnesota.
You or I can say/write/blog/tweet whatever Mallett-to-Minnesota nonsense we want, but realistically, few people think he will be donning Vikings purple this fall (provided, of course, that there actually is an NFL season).
Greg Cote of the Miami Herald thinks the Dolphins could trade down and take Mallett:
“Not for nothing has Miami met four times with Mallett in the buildup to the draft. That’s a lot of effort toward a pointless smokescreen, or genuine interest. But interest and daring to pull the trigger can be separated by the kind of caution that keeps middle-of-the-pack franchises right where they are.”
Bleacher Report’s Joey Hnath thinks that the Vikings will take the similarly high-potential (but with less off-the-field issues) quarterback Jake Locker at No. 12.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune thinks that Minnesota will target a quarterback in the first or second round, but that since Cam Newton and Blaine Gabbert are assumed to be off the board by No. 12 and Mallett, Locker and Christian Ponder could potentially be off the board by No. 43, it seems more likely that Minnesota could use its No. 1 pick on a QB.
Ponder and Locker are predicted as higher picks than Mallett on most draft boards.