Height: 6’7’’ | Weight: 238 | Arkansas
Accuracy: Mallett shows above-average accuracy to compliment his outstanding mechanics. His short accuracy is spot on and can lay the ball into the receiver’s hands on deep routes. Mallett can occasionally miss a receiver across the middle with his tendency to throw some passes too high. Using his exceptional arm strength, he can place the ball into tight windows that even some NFL quarterbacks can’t hit. He does a great job of putting the ball where only the receiver can catch it. He also excels at throwing accurately while on the run after being forced out of the pocket. Accuracy is a strong aspect of his game, but has definite room for improvement.
Arm Strength: Possibly his greatest attribute, Mallett’s arm strength is among the best in college football. Whether it’s a deep ball down the sideline or putting the ball on a rope 20 yards down the field, he has the arm to put the ball anywhere it needs to go. However, too often his passes are overthrown as if he loses control of the amount of strength behind his throws. The main concern is that he can sometimes rely too much on his arm strength when making risky passes.
Athleticism/Mobility: Mallett is a pure pocket passer. He doesn’t have the speed, athleticism or quickness to be a legitimate scrambling threat in the NFL. Shows good movement in the pocket, but defenders shouldn’t be concerned with him picking up first downs with his feet on a consistent basis. Overall, he is subpar in both top-end speed and athleticism, but makes up for it with decision making and poise.
Decision Making: Mallett is a very confident passer with great awareness and football knowledge. However, that confidence can sometimes be detrimental to his play when he decides to force tough throws when nothing is there. When he has time to throw, he reads the defense and does a good job of checking down to his second and third options. Even with pressure in his face, he makes smart, quick decisions to throw the ball away. Despite his lack of speed, he can sometimes try too hard to outrun the defense and put his offense in tough situations by giving up unnecessary sacks. A 10:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio provides support for his strong decision making.
Field Vision: The fact that he’s 6’7’’ allows him to have clear vision of the field and makes his passes much harder to bat down by the defensive line. He does a solid job of reading the defense, reacting after the snap, and taking what the defense can give him. Often checks down to backs and tight ends out of the backfield if he sees nothing available down field.
Mechanics: Coming out of the pro-style offense of Bobby Petrino, Mallett has honed his skills as a prototypical NFL passer. He has a very natural, over-the-top release that, matched with his height, allows him to deliver the ball cleanly and effectively. Stands tall when delivering the ball, and uses a quick, fluid motion to get the ball out of his hands. When he runs play-action, he does an outstanding job of selling the run and hiding the ball from the defense. However, he needs to learn to drop back more effectively considering he spent lots of his time at Arkansas in either the shotgun or pistol formations.
Pocket Awareness/Poise: As mentioned earlier, Mallett has excellent pocket presence and awareness which allows him to evade the pass rush and continue to look down field. He doesn’t typical get flustered by the pressure and can step into hits in order to make a good pass. Even in tough situations, he has held his own and been a composed leader for his teammates to rally around.
Final Word: Any team would be glad to have a player of Mallett’s ability and leadership taking snaps for their offense. Passing stats come easily and in large quantities for Mallett, who is as productive as they come at the quarterback spot. After having an up-and-down season in 2009, he came back in 2010 after considering the NFL and proved that he could be smarter and more consistent with his decisions. He has shown great maturation since joining Arkansas in 2008 as a transfer from Michigan.
Mallett has all of the tools to become a sensational quarterback in the NFL. No matter the situation, he is a proven leader and hard worker, but can sometimes lose focus when things start to fall apart as evidenced by Arkansas’ 2009 loss to Alabama by a score of 7-35 in which he completed just 34% of his passes. Teammates seem to rally around his vocal leadership and feed off his positive energy. However, scouts will need to look into why coaches at Michigan had issues with him that eventually led to him transferring.
During spring practices in 2008, he missed the final two weeks due to an injured finger in his throwing hand. Other than that, there are no standout durability issues for Mallett.
Given the right coaching and the proper system, he could eventually put up big time numbers in the NFL just as he did under Petrino. In order to succeed, he will need to work on controlling his strength on deep balls and making better decisions with defenders bearing down on him. If the right circumstances arise, Mallett could come off the board in the late first/early second round of the 2011 draft.