I was recently asked to take part in the Mocking the Draft Mock Draft and at number 25 I selected Ryan Mallett. Most of you regular readers know that I like Mallett; I think he's got a lot of upside and does a number of things, namely with his arm, better than probably any other QB in the draft. That being said, it was not an easy decision for me. If you've been paying attention to MTD's mock so far, a lot of the players I would have taken at 1.25 instead were already off the board so I felt it was the best course of action to go quarterback.
Go check out the article here, and vote, but here's a brief synopsis of my choice - you can see Dan Kadar's reaction to my choice at MTD.
Dan Kelly explains: Seattle has many needs to fill on its roster - principle among them include defensive line, offensive line, cornerback and quarterback. By now, top tier defensive linemen Nick Fairley, Corey Liuget and Phil Taylor are off the board. With them, top-tier offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Gabe Carimi, Anthony Castonzo and Mike Pouncey are gone as well. The hope that cornerback Jimmy Smith would fall to them is not realized, as he is picked at No. 23. They could have considered Muhammad Wilkerson at No. 25 as well, but he was chosen directly in front of them by the Saints.
Ultimately the upside of Ryan Mallett is too much to pass up. The character concerns are there but widely unsubstantiated, and Mallett is a good fit for the direction the Seahawks want to go in. Most scouts rate his arm in the top 10 range, but Mallett will fall due to off-field and character concerns. The Seahawks' front office has shown a willingness to take a chance on these types of issues, and will see Mallett at No. 25 as a good value. The lower draft spot will temper the expectations and will alleviate the pressure on him to start right away (depending on the development of Charlie Whitehurst and/or the re-signing of Matt Hasselbeck). This selection works for Seattle because of the relative depth at the other three key positions of need - DL, OL, and CB - in this year's draft. The Hawks will have a chance to pick up key players at those positions in subsequent rounds.
Whatever the Seahawks want to implement on offense, whether it's a ball control short passing game or the more aggressive vertical route style game with shots downfield that Pete Carroll favored at USC, Mallett has the tools. He has a cannon for an arm and possesses good accuracy. He can make all the necessary passes, from the quick three-step-drop slants and out-routes to the deep post and corner routes. He has worked in a pro-style offense, and by most accounts from former coaches, is a student of the game that will put in the work in the film room.
He can sit in the pocket and pick apart a defense if he needs to, and his mobility is satisfactory enough to get the job done in the system they will use. Carroll has stated that they have focused on QBs that can get out of the pocket and complement the run game with their feet, but with Mallett, his arm is his greatest threat and they will adapt accordingly. Historically, Carroll and Darrell Bevell have utilized different styles of QBs with success, and Mallett's arm is too good to ignore. With Tom Cable presumably running the rush offense, the 'Hawks will be looking to pound the ball on the ground and build the passing attack off of the run. Mallett will be a good weapon on play-action, and has experience diagnosing defenses and changing plays at the line of scrimmage. All these attributes make him the most pro-ready QB in the draft, and the 'Hawks recognize this and have decided to roll the dice on him.
The vote tallies so far are about what I would expect with this pick - he's a polarizing figure, many people predicting he'll be great and many feel that he'll bust. So far the votes are spread out pretty evenly from an A grade to a flat out F and this doesn't surprise me one bit.
Ultimately I felt that the Seahawks needed to take a chance on a top-level QB if they want to be great. Ryan Mallett has a top-10 arm but his other concerns have led him to drop to #25. Getting picked at #25 will help Mallett immensely, the pressure will be lessened and he'll have time to get worked into the system backing up Whitehurst or a FA veteran they bring in.
He could fail, but so could any player really. Teams that are great inevitably strike gold in the draft - just look at the Green Bay Packers: they took Aaron Rodgers at #25- his fall to there was due partly because some teams believed he had a major attitude problem - (thank you San Francisco for thinking that). Sound familiar? Look at where Green Bay is now.
I'm not saying Mallett is Rodgers - what I'm saying is that the draft is a gamble, and Mallett has a big risk to reward ratio. If Seattle wants to be great, they can't play it safe on middling quarterback prospects and hope for a Tom Brady to emerge. They need to push their chips out there, and that's what they've done by selecting Ryan Mallett.