Has a really strong arm and is able to thread the needle on some throws. Strong enough arm that even when he doesn't set his feet, he can fire the ball with a lot of zip. Has ability to throw downfield and the potential to excel in the vertical passing game. Shows ability to throw on the run. Moves fairly well for his size and can improvise. Will show good accuracy on some throws. Has ability and flexibility to audible at the line of scrimmage. Has ability to go to his second read.
Needs to improve his mechanics. He sort of dips the ball down on his release, which adds a few milliseconds to his release. And it leads to inaccuracy. Passes tend to sail on him. Tends to use his upper body to generate most of his arm strength, and doesn't set his feet, which leads to errant throws. Doesn't show great anticipation and can be a second late on some of his throws. Will stare down his receivers and wait for the first read to get open. Needs to consistently go through his progressions, and has a tendency to hold onto the ball too long. Not as effective when he's pressured and forced to leave the pocket. Will make some poor decisions with the ball, particularly when he's forced to scramble and avoid pressure. Needs to improve his footwork in the pocket to slide and avoid the pass rush.
He has the physical tools you look for in a big-armed pocket passer. He's tall and can see the field, and has the arm strength to deliver the ball with authority. But he still needs work with his mechanics and decision making. He takes almost all of his snaps from the shotgun in Arkansas's spread attack and it's probably hurt his footwork and pocket awareness which is why his effectiveness dips significantly when he's pressured and forced to flee the pocket. The thing that keeps Mallett from being a true franchise passer at this point in his career is that he is not consistent snap to snap. But he does have the tools that if he can start to put everything together, he can be a franchise passer. Shows the competitiveness you like to see in guys like that. Many will be quick to compare him to Joe Flacco or Ben Roethlisberger due to his size and arm strength. But I think his game is much more reminiscent of Chad Henne when he came out of Michigan than Flacco.
What I Want to See in 2010:
Mainly, I want to see him improve his footwork and mechanics. The decision making also needs to improve, but honestly like a player like Henne, I don't expect him to ever really be a cerebral college quarterback. If he does show that ability, then more power to him because it will make him more NFL ready. But by the nature of the offense he's playing in, I'm not expecting those improvements. The mechanics and footwork also may not improve, but if it does, then I'll be much more optimistic about his NFL future. The mechanics and footwork will make him a more effective dropback passer in the NFL, as well as more accurate and consistent snap to snap.
Mallett is going to be a first round pick when it is all said and done, unless he has a really bad season. Then he might fall into the second round. But more than likely he'll go in the first. The biggest question is how high he goes. He does have the potential to be the No. 1 pick. But that will only come if he has a great season and makes significant improvements in the areas I spoke of earlier. More than likely, he'll be the second or third quarterback taken somewhere in the Top 10-15 picks. At this point, he is more like a consolation prize for a second or third team like Flacco was in 2008 than being the first guy off the board like Ryan was. At this point, I would expect his potential to come out early to be 60/40 in favor of an early exit. Depending on how strong a season has likely will determine if he goes pro, but the high number of junior QBs that have entered the draft (5 of the last 12 1st round picks) in recent years probably makes him fairly likely to come out.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.