In Mel Brooks'ian fashion, as analysts of future NFL players we often zoom in so close on our targets that we actually crash into them. David Hyde does just than in his article in the Sun Sentinel Blogs about Arkansas QB Ryan Mallet. The purpose of this article is to get you uncomfortably familiar with Ryan Mallet, and Hyde does so thoroughly.
I would have you read Hyde's profile of Ryan Mallet first, but unfortunately it's only slightly shorter than the Twilight series and it's not as quick a read (not that I ever read Twilight or anything). I thought that I would pass this gold-mine of information about the QB along to you all since there have been a lot less Brian Williams, and a lot more Ricky Lake regarding Mallet floating around out there. That is to say that there has been a lot of varied opinion, mixed in with some mud-slinging and chair throwing, about the star quarterback from Arkansas -- and not a lot of fact.
Hyde, not only did his homework with the game tape, but he also did some in depth research on Mallet's character concerns going all the way back to his high school days. He largely defends Mallet on this this point saying,
I’ve spent a lot of time digging into Mallett’s past. Ninety-nine percent of it seems positive to me. I can’t speak to the drug rumours because I don’t know. But I do find it interesting that no-one’s ever come out of the woodwork and that to this point he’s not failed a test. He’s a confident kid, a tremendously well respected hard worker who simply wants to win.
The character concerns that have plagued Mallet throughout this draft process are perhaps overblown. All QBs these days go through the gauntlet of questions and background checks, making sure that QBs smile properly, regularly do their laundry and send mothers day cards to their moms and their grandmas. There's just so much information out there that it's hard to discern what's factual, what's skewed, and what's completely fabricated altogether. However, Hyde suggests that the facts we know for certain about Mallet paint a very different picture of the QB.
If Mallett is really this bad person hiding away, it’s so well hidden that no-ones seen it and if that’s the case then it doesn’t matter anyway. Similarly, if there's a drug user hiding behind all those drug tests he passed at Arkansas, then he's so good at hiding it and/or controlling it that it probably doesn't even matter. It’s got so bad for Mallett in the past couple of months dealing with rumours, much of it false, that even Charlie Sheen was making jokes about him and potential drug use.
The other big question that is haunting Mallet during this draft process is the one of mobility - particularly after Mallet turned in a 5.3 second forty yard dash time during his pro day. More so than the character concerns, this is what troubles me as a fan knowing that he might be the future QB of the Bengals one day.
First, let’s get the ugly out of the way right now. Ryan Mallett is the worst athlete among a class of quarterbacks that might be the most athletic I have ever seen.
That's not exactly a glowing review, but Hyde goes on to say that Mallet has very good pocket presence, performing decently while under pressure, and exceptionally when being blitzed.
In the games I graded, the blitz and cover packages were as aggressively run against Mallett as you regularly see in the NFL. However, defenses consistently paid for their blitzing tendencies against Ryan Mallett. Thru the first 10 games of the year, when Mallett faced the blitz from the shotgun, he completed almost 77% of his passes with a 10.5 yards per attempt average, 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Over the same time period, when facing the blitz from under center, Mallett was just under 56% completion with a 10.0 yards per attempt average, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. That is phenomenal work against the blitz, and it shows what a combination of Mallett’s anticipation of and sense for pressure is able to do when he stands strong and uses that big arm of his.
We're not saying one way or the other about whether or not the Bengals should spend their second round pick to draft Ryan Mallet. As Joe Goodberry has pointed out in his analysis of the QB prospects for the Bengals, "Mallett is a bad fit for the Bengals west coast offense, but that doesn't mean they wont take a chance on him."
And if he falls to the Bengals in the second round, he might be hard to pass up.