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Evaluating Ryan Mallett

Posted Aug 31, 2014

A look at the collegiate and pro career of the newest Texans quarterback.

How do you properly evaluate someone that has thrown four regular season passes in the past three NFL seasons?

That's the dilemma in analyzing Ryan Mallett, who was acquired by the Texans via trade on Sunday. Texans head coach Bill O'Brien has already named Ryan Fitzpatrick as the team's starter, so it is presumed that Mallett will compete with 2014 fourth round pick Tom Savage for the backup quarterback position.

Why Mallett? The former Arkansas star played under then Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien in 2011, who is now the current Texans head coach. Mallett is presumably familiar with O'Brien's offensive philosophy, even though he didn't attempt a pass during his lone season working with O'Brien.

Mallett's NFL career is light on statistical accomplishment, but he has been practicing and working with an NFL franchise for the past three seasons.

Without a pro resume to analyze, let's look back at his success as a collegian.

First off, a little background on Mallett. According to Rivals.com, the 6-foot-6 signal caller was the nation's second rated pro-style quarterback coming out of Texarkana, Texas in 2006. The Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Texas, Mallett committed to the University of Michigan.

After one season playing for the maize and blue, Mallett transferred to Arkansas. His two-year stint in Fayetteville produced big numbers, as he threw for 7,493 yards. He led the Hogs to a combined 18-8 record, including an appearance in the Sugar Bowl in 2010. He finished seventh in the Heisman voting that year.

How do Mallett's collegiate records stack up against the quarterbacks taken in the first round of this year's draft...Blake Bortles, Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel?

See the table below.

Passing Attempts Completions Percentage Yards Pass Eff. TDs INTs Rushing Yards Rushing TDs
Blake Bortles 891 585 66% 7598 153.6 56 19 561 15
Teddy Bridgewater 1142 781 68% 9817 157.2 72 24 170 6
Ryan Mallett 955 552 57.8% 8385 150.4 69 24 0 0
Johnny Manziel 863 595 68% 7820 164.5 63 22 2169 30

Of the four quarterbacks above, other than Manziel, all played for three years total. The numbers are easy to compare, and give you a general idea of each signal caller's success in the collegiate ranks.

Mallett declared for the NFL draft after his junior season, and was projected by many as a first round talent. In the January version of Mel Kiper's 'Big Board', Mallett checked in at number 17.  

To compare, here's a look at where each quarterback ranked on Kiper's 'Big Board' during the same time frame (January of draft year).

Bridgewater: 8th
Bortles: 9th
Manziel: 12th
----------------

Mallett: 17th

In Mel Kiper's eyes, Mallett's appeared to be a similarly rated prospect to this year's group.

Scouts, Inc., gives prospect grades for each player prior to the draft, rating them in various categories to come up with a total score. Mallett had a 82 overall score, with high marks in production, accuracy and arm strength. According to the rankings, an 80-89 score is considered an 'outstanding prospect'. In his write up Mallett's arm was described as elite.

"Smooth over-the-top release. Follows through very well. Ball jumps off hand and possesses arguably the strongest arm of any quarterback we have evaluated in the 2011 class."  

Mallett went on to be selected in the third round (76th overall) by the Patriots.

Are all pre-draft rankings and reports accurate?

Of course not. That said, it would be unfair to judge Mallett strictly on those collegiate reports. While there is no way to quantify how his time spent in the NFL has helped him grow as a quarterback, he does have three years of practices, meetings and training that no other rookie has at this point.

Below is an ESPN Sports Science video from Mallett's college days. In it, they analyzed his arm strength and delivery.

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