When the NFL draft kicks off next Thursday night, teams will be on the phones considering trading picks, players, and anything else of value to be able to maneuver in the draft. A report came out today that the New England Patriots would listen to calls involving quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett. The fact that Mallett’s name was included, intrigued me.
Mallett was one of the “character” guys from the 2011 draft class. Based on talent alone, Mallett was deserving of a first round grade. Reports came out before the Patriots even drafted Mallett that they had him listed as the top quarterback in the class. While other teams passed on Mallett due to the off-field issues, the Patriots were in position with all of their extra picks to take a chance on the gunslinger. In the third round they made the value selection and planned to allow him to develop behind Tom Brady and under the watchful eye of Bill Belichick. Mallett was a less than mobile pocket passer while at Arkansas and Michigan but had a rocket arm that can get the ball to any spot on the field. Here’s a look at his numbers over the last two years while at Arkansas:
2009 - 55.8% Comp 3,624 yards 30 TDs 7 INTs
2010 - 64.7% Comp 3,869 yards 32 TDs 12 INTs
In the time heading up to the 2011 NFL Draft I talked about how the Miami Dolphins should take a chance on Ryan Mallett if he did happen to slide as was the rumor. Though Mallett did fall to the 74th pick, the Dolphins never made a play for him. Fast forward to a year later and here we sit discussing Miami’s need for a quarterback still. Could the Dolphins decide to spend a mid round pick to acquire Ryan Mallett this year? All of the buzz surrounding Miami and the draft has been the fact that they will probably select Texas A&M quarterback, Ryan Tannehill with the 8th pick overall if he is available there. The Dolphins traded away their number one receiving threat this off-season (Brandon Marshall) and are also switching to a 4-3 defense in 2012. The number eight pick would be better suited to fill a hole that would contribute this year. My belief on Tannehill is that he will have to sit two years before he would be ready to play at the NFL level. I would draft a player in the top ten that could make the team better for this season.
Much like Mallett, Tannehill struggled to win games when it was in his grasp. Tannehill only started 19 games in college and is just now adjusting to the college level. Miami wouldn’t be able to throw Tannehill in the starting lineup until the 2014 season, if they wanted to set him up for success and wouldn’t be able to draft a starter for their new 4-3 scheme or a receiving threat until day two of the draft. The Dolphins should at least check into what it would cost to acquire the services of Mallett. He has spent a full NFL season learning under Brady in New England and has been surrounded by a locker room that teaches men how to put the team first and corrects character issues. He should have learned how to be a professional under the Patriots’ coaching and have an understanding of what the NFL life is about.
By no means do I believe the Dolphins should just recklessly acquire Mallett’s services. They would need to dig deep and see how he behaved off the field in 2011. They would need to go back and watch any film that they could get their hands on of Mallett’s from his time with the Patriots. They would also need to ask the question of why would New England be willing to part with him. The answer to this could be anything from Belichick being comfortable with Brian Hoyer, to just wanting more picks, to Mallett not being able to be saved as a player or a person, to he’s eying another quarterback prospect in this year’s class to take the reins after Brady’s career is finished. Belichick didn’t have any problems parting ways with Matt Cassel after he stepped in huge for the Pats, but that really isn’t a ringing endorsement for Mallett.
I use the example of the Dolphins trading for Mallett this season for all of the reasons stated above but any team that is need of a strong arm, pocket quarterback, should look into everything I’ve discussed. The Kansas City Chiefs have both a talented roster and ties to the Patriots organization and may consider him as well. This article could have easily been about them acquiring Mallett via trade next week. Several teams need to do their homework on him over the next week as he should be a more valuable and ready prospect than most of the quarterbacks that receive mid round grades this year.