40: 5.00 (estimated)
Has a very strong arm, which is able to thread the needle. Can throw lasers downfield and the ball often comes out with very good velocity. Shows some anticipation with his throws, abel to throw guys open, lead receivers and throw with accuracy downfield. Able to go to his second read and knows how to check down. Is able to improvise at times. Is able to find throwing lanes when under pressure, and deceptively mobile when it comes to extending plays inside and outside the pocket. Shows some ability to throw on the run, as well as make the occasional play with his legs, particularly in the redzone.
Passes tend to sail on him, partially because of his height, but also because he tends to generate most of his arm strength with his upper body. Needs to work on his footwork there. Struggles to reset his feet when he's moving around the pocket. Not as comfortable when he's forced to move and his decision making and accuracy dip considerably at times. Will miss on some easy throws downfield, and can leave points on the field. Needs to show better touch and accuracy on the shorter routes and throws. At times needs to quicken his release and get the ball out quicker, as he holds onto too long. That indicates a lack of ideal anticipation, and he'll stare down his first read from time to time and wait for guys to get open. Not great at recognizing and anticipating the blitz as well. When on the move, sometimes he'll throw across his body. Doesn't always secure the ball when he's moving around either. Forces too many passes in coverage because he trusts his arm too much. Tends to force passes in clutch situations. Doesn't show great intangibles as far as on-field leadership goes. Will show visible frustration and may not go all out. Almost works exclusively from the shotgun.
Mallett's arm will wow you, but he has a lot of kinks to work out. Lucky for him, most of his flaws are coachable ones, particularly when it comes to his footwork and mechanics. But the other weaknesses, such as having questionable intangibles are not so fixable. He flashes all the tools you want to see in a vertical passer, but he's going to need a lot of development and hands on coaching. Showed improvement as a senior, completing 64.7% of his 411 attempts for 3869 yards, 32 TDs, and 12 INTs. He also rushed for 4 touchdowns. He missed the second half of the Auburn game with a concussion, but it should be noted that Arkansas was winning when he left the game. So discounting that game, his record as a starter was 10-2. As a junior, he completed 55.8% of his 403 attempts for 3624 yards, 30 TDs, and 7 picks. He rushed for 2 scores, and was 8-5 in his 13 starts. He transferred to Arkansas in 2008 after Rich Rodriguez was hired, after a freshman year where he spelled an injured Chad Henne quite often. He started 3 games that year, going 3-0 as a starter. He completed 43.3% of his 141 attempts for 892 yards, 7 TDs, and 5 INTs, along with an additional rushing touchdown. He was arrested for public intoxication in March 2009, and there have been unsubstantiated rumors of other off-field issues of drug use.
Mallett is a guy that is going to shine in a vertical NFL offense. Give him some big wideouts that can go downfield and he can be a very effective passer. The problem with Mallett is that he's going to make a bunch of mistakes and turnovers at the same time as making a ton of throws and plays that others cannot. He'll take a bunch of sacks because of his trust in his arm strength and size to make up for a lack of anticipation. And he forces throws into coverage because again he trusts his arm too much. So there will be seasons in the pros where he's sacked 50 times a season as well as throwing 18-25 picks. I think for a team and coaching staff that understands that is going to come with the territory, then they can live with that, especially if they give him a top-level No. 1 target to throw to, someone like a Brandon Marshall or Vincent Jackson who is big and tall to match Mallett, as well as building a defense that can create the turnovers and stops to get the ball back when Mallett makes these mistake. As far as the intangibles go, I think there will always be something missing from him that prevents him from being a highly efficient, elite QB. I think throwing him to the wolves too early is a bad idea because he needs to go to a place where he can grow into a leadership role. Otherwise, there is some Ryan Leaf potential with him. I don't think he's a guy that is going to rub everyone the right way, particularly veteran teammates. I don't think he's a bad guy, but I don't think he deals well with adversity, and a lot of what being an NFL quarterback, especially a young one is all about is how you deal with adversity. And I think playing him too early is setting yourself up for disaster, especially if you don't have the sort of talent in place around him to hide some of his flaws. Most of his weaknesses to his game can be coached up with time and hands on training. Going to a team that has an offensive-minded head coach that will give him a lot of one to one tutelage would be best for him. Someone like a Mike Shanahan, Gary Kubiak, Andy Reid, etc. I think if given time to develop, like at least a year or two, Mallett can ultimately be an above average to good NFL passer. I think the upper end of his potential is a guy like a Jay Cutler that is very talented, but also prone to mistakes. But more than likely, he's going to be a Derek Anderson. In that while he is very talented, but his flaws can be exploited and more often he struggles in pressure situations. A good comparison to how his NFL career probably will go, especially if he's put in the fire too early is Jeff George. After four years with the Colts, who drafted him, George came to Atlanta and was productive for two years, but his blowup with June Jones cost him a third year. And he never played more than two years with another team the rest of his way. He got more opportunities as a starter, in Oakland, Washington, and Minnesota, but was never a guy that teams wanted to go all in on. If Mallett gets one, preferably two years to develop, and goes to a stable organization, he can become a quality passer in the same mold as a Joe Flacco or Jay Cutler. But that's because he is going to be up and down throughout his career, and he'll need something stable to get purchase on as he goes through that. But if he goes to unstable organization with changing coaches, front offices, and personnel constantly, he's not going to be the rock upon which those teams can find stability. Unfortunately the odds probably aren't in his favor that he avoids a team like that and ultimately if I was a betting man I think he'll ultimately become a Derek Anderson-like journeyman.
Mallett would have the opportunity to develop in Atlanta because he's not going to unseat Ryan as a starter. He's a talented guy that would merit the Falcons getting picks for him down the road. But that's his only value in Atlanta.
Mallett's talent level and potential probably merit potential late first round status. But ultimately because he is more of a boom/bust prospect that will need time to develop, he's a much better value in the middle to later portion of the second round.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Arm Strength: 4.5
Decision Making: 3.0
Pocket Awareness: 2.5
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.