Blog Entry

Mallett a talent, but not an elite one

Posted on: September 25, 2010 9:11 pm
Just like how it became en vogue to tee off on Washington's Jake Locker after his struggles against a talented Nebraska defense, don't be surprised when every talking head out there jumps on the back of Arkansas' Ryan Mallett after a tough second half against the Tide, Saturday.

Just like they would have jumped on his bandwagon had he been able to engineer the upset.

Last week was a perfect example. Mallett made some legitimate NFL throws in the comeback victory over Georgia, but the same concerns that I (and more importantly, NFL scouts) have voiced about him in the past were evident when one breaks down the film rather than just peek at the box score.

Those same issues were even more evident against the Tide.

Mallett, despite what some commentators might tell you, has the marginal footwork most passers of his height have. His first of three interceptions against the Tide showed him throwing flat-footed, rather than stepping into the throw. His second was arguably his worst throw of the game -- high and behind his intended target. His third, off of his back foot, was an inexcusably lazy toss that he tried to throw away. Some quarterbacks don't have the arm strength to throw it out of bounds 40 yards away. Mallett could do it from 70. And he'd tell you the same.

As Alabama turned up the pressure in the second half, Mallett was forced to move his feet to either step up in the pocket or avoid a pass rush. When he did so, his accuracy plummeted. And that was predictable.

Now, before you claim that I'm simply jumping on Mallett now after his struggles against what likely will be the toughest defense he faces this season, know that I've been grading Mallett the same way for a long time now.

Here is what I said during my preview of the SEC in July :
One final note on the SEC prospects... I typically reserve comments for senior prospects, but Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett is an obvious NFL prospect regardless of when he leaves the Razorbacks. However, I wasn't as wowed by Mallett as some apparently are. His 6-6, 238 pound frame is considered a positive by most, though his long legs and only moderate foot speed/balance concern me. Mallett has a gun and can make some dazzling throws, but at least some of his success has to be attributed to Bobby Petrino's wide-open offense. Remember, this is the same offense that convinced many of us that former Louisville standout Brian Brohm was one day going to be an NFL star. With two years of remaining eligibility, Mallett has plenty of time to iron out some wrinkles to his game, but I, for one, feel he's being a bit overrated right now...

Mallett is a talented passer with a big arm. When he's protected, he's go the intermediate and long accuracy to shred defenses just like Drew Bledsoe did for the Washington State Cougars and early in his NFL career with the New England Patriots. That said, this is a different NFL than the one Bledsoe did his damage. Defenses force quarterbacks to move their feet and adjust quickly in today's game. I haven't yet seen that or the short range accuracy Mallett will need to be consistently successful.

Is he talented? Sure. Any quarterback with his arm strength and the ability to complete 75% of his passes in the first three quarters (for 313 yards and TD) against Alabama certainly is talented.

But, he's not the elite prospect some have characterized him as. And it didn't take 4-10 passing for 44 yards and two terrible interceptions in the 4th quarter to prove it.
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