Dan Pompei at the National Football Post addresses this interesting issue:
“There are two Ryan Malletts floating around out there. The first is the one most people think he is. The second is the one the Patriots think he is.”
“Some scouts will tell you it will be a strong armed passer who can’t move. A player whose lack of athleticism is underscored by poor footwork. A cocky guy who likes to party and has a history of immaturity.”
The problem with the NFL draft is always separating fact from fiction. I think a lot of personnel men listen to each other talk and every time a story gets repeated it grows on their minds and suddenly mole hills become mountains.
One of the above concerns is an absolute fact in my mind. Mallett is a statue in the pocket. I don’t mean he can’t run. I mean he can’t move at all. Tom Brady has what many players call “phone booth quicks”. He can move just a little to the side at the last minute and cause rushing linemen to charge by him with barely a touch. Jay Cutler has them too and its one of the things that makes you think that if he ever realizes his potential, he’ll tear up the league.
Mallett doesn’t have that and it definitely is a cause for concern. But its not a huge gamble to believe a guy with such a big arm could, with a good line and time to develop, demonstrate enough mobility to get by.
It’s really the second factor, the intangibles, that apparently caused Mallett to fall to the third round. Here’s what the Patriots think:
“Mallett’s character actually enhanced his stock with the Patriots. They don’t think drugs or other substances are an issue. All that is on his record is one arrest for public intoxication outside a nightclub near the Arkansas campus.”
It’s that last sentence that says it all in my eyes.
Ryan Mallett has been made out to be a Cam Newton-type problem. But here’s the difference. Mallett has one black mark on his record and its one that a lot of college students could claim. Newton? Stealing notebook computers, cheating on exams, being thrown out of Florida and, unless you are an incredibly naive Tiger fan drinking the burnt orange and navy Koolaid, taking money to play at Auburn. These are verifiable facts that no amount of smiling and talking nice can make go away.
As former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel wrote a couple months ago for NFP: ”The bottom line is the only things that you can really believe is what you know to be true.” For the record, based upon what we actually know about Mallett, the Patriots have once again used common sense to get right what other teams continue get wrong.