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Patriots Look Beyond Brady; Draft For Future In Third Round With Arkansas QB At Pick #74

Preparing For Life Without Brady?

NFL Draft Gab’s Scouting Report:

Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas, 6’6 238

Games Scouted:

2009– Texas A&M, Auburn, Troy, Mississippi, Florida, LSU, East Carolina.
2010– Georgia, Alabama, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, UTEP, LSU, Ohio St.

Position Ranking: #1

Technique/Mechanics: Carries the football high, at chest level, and maintains height as he sets to deliver. Shows an over the top release point and stays consistent with his throwing angle with or without pressure. Has a slight loop in his delivery due to the length of his forearm. No windup or overextension, forearm stays near to his body with a fluid motion. Very quick release, football jumps off his hand at the top of delivery. Natural with the play-action fake, as good as you’ll see at any level.

Stands balanced in the pocket with body and feet parallel to the sideline. Strides into his throws with front foot planted, knee bent, and open hips as he delivers the football. Shows an overall smooth drop and set when settling into 5 and 7 step drops. Overall mechanics are good and have continued to progress since 2009. Foot stride in his delivery has shortened up from the previous season, which improved his short and intermediate accuracy. However, due to his height and length (long torso and limbs), Mallett needs a small radius within or around the pocket in order to make consistently accurate throws. He needs a “pitcher’s mound” to properly set feet and maintain a steady launch point- Similar to Tom Brady, Eli Manning, and Joe Flacco in this regard, just more pronounced (bigger feet).

Arm Strength: Rare arm strength. Only a few NFL players can maintain the same rotation on deep throws- if any. Plenty of quarterbacks can throw the football far, but very few can keep the velocity (tight spin) from release point to contact that Mallett shows. Can drive the football anywhere on the field from opposite hash to boundary. Able to throw a frozen rope with no give in its rotation up to 40 yards with the flick of his wrist. Can make every throw with little effort even when technique is off, both in the pocket and when moving to his right side. Showed he could fit passes inside three-deep coverage with four underneath on the post route. Can fit throws in between and over the top of the two deep safeties down the sideline; able to close tight coverage windows. Playbook is wide open with his arm strength.

Accuracy: Accuracy is good and at times can be very good when he gets in a rhythm. Showed that he could complete the short (cross, delay, stick, out, slant), intermediate (in, out, seam, comeback, cross), and deep (post, go, corner, out, comeback) routes with regularity when playcall/coverage dictated. With a clean pocket he was able to lead his receivers a step in front, with excellent ball placement; putting the throw on the proper shoulder, keeping receivers in their route, and placing it where only the receiver could make the catch. In traffic (unable to stride) his accuracy at times was sporadic; throws were low, high, and behind the intended target. Showed effectiveness on the move when utilized on bootlegs and play-action; squares his shoulders and leads his receiver to a spot. Improved his accuracy on the move the more he was utilized. Still has room to improve, but at this point, his overall accuracy is better than half the starting quarterbacks in the NFL- when facing the same conditions (pressure, coverage).

Acumen/Awareness: Played in a combination system (spread, power) that is similar to many pro offensive systems in the NFL. Was trusted to make the pre-snap audible based on the strength and weakness of formation; handled the entire playbook and made frequent changes upon pre-snap diagnose. Consistently went through a full progression (sideline to sideline) after the snap and hit his third read and outlet regularly; utilized all his receivers and never trusted one more than the other (equal numbers). Keeps his head centered under duress and won’t look at the pressure. Good peripheral vision and seems to see the entire field well on most snaps. Stands up under pressure and will deliver the ball with a defender on top of him. Decision making needs more consistency. Shows the ability to be very sound in his overall progressions, but will try to force throws if nothing is open on his third read. Falls in love with the vertical routes and has a gunslinger mentality that causes him to take unnecessary chances.

Very good pocket instincts and knows when to step up and inside the pocket. Natural in his pocket mannerisms, uses eyes, head nods, and shoulder shrugs to hold secondary coverage. Pre-snap diagnose is strong against set coverages; Mallett is very effective against base zone and man coverages. Not as efficient or quick against disguises (combination, moving coverage) when facing pressure and will have to improve against diverse defensive fronts and delayed blitzes; better in 2010 than 2009 but still needs to be more effective.

Mobility: Below adequate on the run, good within the pocket and off the tackle (roll-outs). At home in the pocket. Knows how to work the pocket for extra time; shows a good internal clock and feel for pressure. At his best he can move the chains and gain 5-9 yards upfield with his legs. Not a threat to break long runs. Lacks the ability to quickly reset his feet with inside pressure.

Intangibles/Extras: Shows complete command of his huddle and understanding of the offense. Was frequently seen encouraging teammates on the sideline and in the huddle. Voted team captain by his peers in 2009 and 2010. Coaches have stated publicly that Mallett “raises the level of play of everyone around him”. Has been called a “student of the game” by Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and understands the importance of film study. Offensive system puts him a step ahead of spread system quarterbacks leaving the college ranks; Bobby Petrino ran the same system as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1999-2001 and again as the head coach of the Atlanta Falcons in 2007. Passing concepts and route combinations are professional level. Threw for over 300 yards in 14 of 26 games the past two seasons, with 62 touchdowns to only 19 interceptions. Had 44 completions of over 25 yards or more in 2010, the most in the NCAA.

In games I observed Mallett led his team on 9 touchdown drives directly after an interception. Has a short memory. Doesn’t pout or hang his head, but will complain to officials at times (more than necessary). Suffered the most dropped passes of any quarterback I evaluated, counted 47 drops in a total of 15 games, six of which were either touchdowns or likely touchdowns (seven in his final game alone). Comes from a family of coaches and teachers, dad coaches high school football, mom teaches english, (aunts and uncles coach and teach). Has participated in volunteer coaching and hopes to coach full-time at the high school level after his career. On a negative note, was charged with public intoxication in 2009, which has led to speculation that his off-field behavior is questionable.

Notable: Leaves the SEC conference with 19 interceptions in two seasons, besting conference counterparts and former #1 overall draft picks Peyton Manning (22 int), Eli Manning (25 int), and Matthew Stafford (20 int).

Bottom Line: While the rest of the top quarterback prospects are ranked highly based on athleticism and potential, Mallett has shown consistent production in a pro-style offense. Playing in the SEC conference he regularly took snaps from under center, made playcall adjustments at the line of scrimmage, and didn’t use his legs to escape the task of making decisions from the pocket- all of which is more than you can say about any other top prospect in this class.

I feel that Mallett is the most natural quarterback prospect in terms of pocket instincts, progression reads, and NFL passing concepts. His athletic ability isn’t impressive but is comparable to Philip Rivers and Joe Flacco- the two quarterbacks Mallett most resembles to me. The success that Mallett had against the fastest and most physical defenses in college football -from the pocket- won’t escape diligent talent evaluators. He’s a big, sturdy, pocket savvy passer that fits the mold of a Bill Parcell’s style signal caller (Vinny Testaverde, Phil Simms, Drew Bledsoe), and Mallett will likely be valued higher by teams who see the game in a similiar light.

New England’s Other Third Round Pick (#73): Stevan Ridley, RB/FB, LSU

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