Ryan Mallett: Vs. Alabama & The case against drafting him.

Some have wondered if Ryan Mallett was too tall for the QB position. Mallett stands 6'6" or 6'7", depending on who you ask. 

The idea that a QB can be "too tall" is nonsense - to me, at least. It implies, at least to a certain degree, that an extremely tall standing height negates the quarterback's ability to play at a certain level compared to a shorter quarterback who is at what some may consider more of a prototypical height. Granted, it's something we can't really know and it's actually somewhat of a fair question, but it's like asking a plastic surgeon if he thinks a woman's tits can be too big.

It's not Mallett's height that will lead to his downfall as a pro player. Rather, it will be his skills in other areas that are so nakedly underdeveloped (like decision-making) and his footwork that will bring him to his knees, both literally and figuratively.

Mallett has long legs that are somewhat stiff,  and somewhat ungainly in movement, but not so much that it hurts your eyes looking at it. Kind of like an old, arthritis-ridden giraffe if there ever was one. This uncoordinated pairing of limbs can contribute to some unsightly footwork, and that negatively impact the kind of throw that a QB, in this case, Mallett, can make. And it has. Both last year, and this year, too.

To be fair, Mallett can make some beautiful throws. However, as I mentioned, he has skills in other areas that are worrisomely underdeveloped, like throwing off of his backfoot, or not stepping into his throw, or poorly mis-timing his passes on short to intermediate throws that he is awesomely inaccurate; it is a package that is a recipe  for disaster at the pro level.

The only real reasons that Mallett gets so much attention as a pro prospect is because he can hit an open WR on a deep route and has a technically sound throw. Beyond that, reasons for drafting Mallett becomes as scarce as a gay man in a titty bar.

I recorded the Alabama vs. Arkansas game for the purpose of scouting Mallett. Last year, I was not very impressed with him, and found him to be a terrible quarterback, one who will not succeed in the pro's. Of course, I cannot actually know that, but I saw precious little that would translate to the pro's.

Not having watched him play at all this year, but witnessed with disbelief the growing Mallett love-fest from ESPN and college football fans, I decided to record a game of his to see if he had actually improved to the point that his acclaim was justified.

It wasn't. 

In the game, I found that Mallett has at least improved in the short game to a degree, though some things were to be desired, like stepping into the throw, putting the ball in front of his receiver, and actually putting some serious velocity on his middle throws, though I'm not sure if he can actually achieve anything close to elite velocity.

More disturbing is that his medium game is still a disaster.

For this piece, I'll just do the key passes of the 1st quarter that illustrate his shortcomings, with the rest to come later.


Vs. Alabama:

1st quarter - 2nd & 5 (12:02)

Arkansas is in 3-WR, 1 TE strongside to the right in Pistol formation with the HB deep behind Mallett. One WR is lined up 3 yards away from the LT.  Mallett motions the HB to the wide left. The ball is snapped. The WR to left runs a 3-yard drag route.

Mallett 3-steps, makes no reads, and promptly throws to the WR on the drag-route. The velocity on the throw isn't much, but gets there in an almost timely manner. Mallett somewhat steps into the throw, but not much. There is one problem with the throw, and that is that rather than hitting the receiver in his hands in stride, the throw is behind the WR and it forces him to reach back and body-catch it before trying to regain the direction that his momentum was carrying him.

The poor throw results in the WR getting tackled for what the sideline official generously says was one-yard catch, though it could have easily been for a loss of yards the way that the receiver's feet led him, for want of a better word, "southwards" in field position after adjusting himself for the catch. The play should have easily resulted in yards after the catch, but unfortunately, Mallett's throw prevented this.

Mallett's protection was awesome, which begs me to ask, "What happens on this play if he came under fire and was under immediate danger of getting sacked?"


1st quarter - 1st and 10 (10:23)

3-WR Pistol formation again, except that this time there are two WR's on the left. Mallett motions the left slot receiver to the right.

Ball is snapped. It is a timing play.

The HB behind Mallet runs an out underneath towards the line of scrimmage on the left. Mallett 3-steps, and is soon met with immediate pressure to his right. He steps up, or rather, he tip-toes up a couple of yards, and his feet hit each other briefly. it doesn't interfere with his balance, but it is another sign of some shoddy footwork. Mallett throws a soft pass, that, while catchable and while the timing was spot on, was too high for his HB and his HB drops it. The poor throw forced the RB to interrupt his own stride and reach up to catch it. Plays like that are designed so that if the QB so chooses to hit the HB, he does so while the HB is in stride so as to maximize yards after the catch. 


1st quarter - 1st and 10 (6:13)

Mallett is lined up under center in a 3-WR Ace formation with the TE strongside left.

Ball is snapped. It is play action.

Mallett drops back to fake the handoff to the running back. His footwork is horrendous and his fake handoff even more horrendous. Nobody is fooled on the fake handoff. Mallett stands tall, or rather, as tall as he can with his feet outside shoulder width. He reads left. Nobody is open. So, he reads right and finds a covered WR to his right on a short curl.

Mallett decides on a pass to the WR, but overthrows him horrendously. Worse still is that Mallett decides on throwing the pass off his backfoot.

"Horrendous" best sums up this play.


1st quarter - 1st and 10 (5:02)

I'm noticing a theme in this quarter thus far. Mallett is horrendous on first down, and Arkansas has seemingly passed on half of their first downs. If they want to attend a BCS game, Mallett will need to improve his play dramatically on first downs.

Mallett is lined up under center. This time, it's a 2-WR Ace formation. The TE is strongside right and the FB is behind the TE and offset to the TE's right. Mallett motions the FB behind him and in front of the HB. It's now a classic 2-WR I-formation.

Ball is snapped.

The WR on the right runs what looks like a deep hook, perhaps a deep out, of about 16 yards. Mallett 5-steps, though with the first two steps being short, and compensating with a long stride for his third and fourth set. Mallett only targets the WR on the right and fires with acceptable pro-level velocity. At first glance, the pass looks slightly off, butin actuality, it is way off. The pass ends up about a yard underneath the WR's route, and is way too high and to the outside for the WR to come back to, though, to the WR's credit, he almost came up with the catch.

1st quarter - 3rd and 9 (4:19)

Classic shotgun formation.

Leggy 5-step with no read progression. Mallet locks on to and fires to the left slot WR, who ran a slant-and-out. While the WR catches the ball, it is another high pass that forces the WR to interrupt his own stride and adjust himself for the catch, countermanding any chance that he had for considerable yards after the catch, which he could have easily done for about 10 yards or so were the pass on target.

The WR is stopped short of the first down, but is somehow rewarded a first down after review of the play.

Amazingly, at this point, Mallett is 7 for 10. Yeah, I scratched my head wondering how that was possible, too.

1st quarter -1st and 10  (2:32)

The horrendous play on first down continues.

3-WR, one TE Pistol formation with the TE strongside left.

Ball is snapped. Mallett's protection for the first time all quarter breaks down immediately.

Mallett eludes a sack, but does so somewhat awkwardly and off-balance, thanks to his long legs. Mallett finds a WR to his right, which was a WR who lined up left and ran a 5-yard in.

His timing and balance way off, Mallett fires - for reasons best known to him - while falling to the ground, way, way in front of the WR that the pass was almost, and should have been, picked off by the safety that was on top of the WR. The WR had no chance at the ball. I question whether Mallett should have ran that, but I'll digress and just say that the attempting pass was a terrible decision, which should have been to throw the ball away.



All in all, despite Mallett's stats in the first quarter. All I saw was a quarterback who was... horrendous.

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