Teams may regret passing on Ryan Mallett

When he speaks to the media, I can see why he rubs people the wrong way.

When the rumors about his drug use in college are brought up, I can see why some draft evaluators say that they “wouldn’t touch him” if they were a NFL GM.

But when I look at Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, I see a quarterback prospect that could potentially make a lot of teams regret passing on him in next week’s draft.

Here’s what we know about him on the field: He has a cannon attached to his right shoulder and is a prototypical pocket passer, which is something that usually makes pro scouts drool over. At times, he has been known to struggle with his accuracy and ball placement, but when his pocket is good he will set his feet properly by getting into a wide base and will square up his target. Michael Vick he’s not, but he doesn’t have to be either.

Here’s what we know about him off the field: He admitted to at least experimenting with drugs in college and according to one GM, Mallett was also the first quarterback ever to admit his drug usage to him during interviews. After the way he spoke to the media at the scouting combine, there are many observers who think he’s brash, cocky and arrogant. In fact, some have even gone as far as to say that he’s the next Ryan Leaf.

Here’s what we don’t know: We don’t know what his behavior will be like once he’s a millionaire. We don’t know if his “experimenting” with drugs in college is actually a real issue and whether or not it’s actually a habit that he needs to kick. We don’t know how he’ll respond to the media on a daily basis or whether or not he can become the first quarterback who played under Bobby Petrino to succeed in the NFL. We may think we know these things, but we don’t.

What I think is that this kid has big-time talent and could be a big-time player at the next level if he’s motivated to succeed. When I hear him speak, yeah, I think he’s cocky. I would even go as far as to say he has “punk-like” tendencies, or a better word to use would be “arrogant.”

But you know what? Arrogance can often fuel professional players. Muhammad Ali was arrogant, as was Barry Bonds. Kobe Bryant is arrogant, as are Rodger Federer and Cristiano Ronaldo. But because those athletes produce on the field (or in the ring in Ali’s case), we almost celebrate their arrogance. In fact, we often change the word “arrogant” to “confident” when describing these athletes.

Now, some people are going to read this and call me out for comparing Mallett to some of the greatest athletes in the world. I’m not. I’m well aware that Mallett could be out of the NFL in four or five years and all of the concerns surrounding him now would be just.

What I am saying is that teams can’t be scared of this guy because he has a sharp tongue with the media, or because he experimented with drugs in college. Those things have nothing to do with being able to read a defense, throw a perfectly timed pass to beat a blitz or lead a comeback in the fourth quarter. Those are the things that matter. Sure, every team wants their quarterback to be as well-spoken as Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers or Matt Ryan, but winning is the only thing that matters in the end. And if Mallett winds up winning, then quarterback-needy teams are going to kick themselves for passing on him next week. Besides, teams always school young players on how to deal with the media and you know whatever team drafts him will keep a keen eye on the drug use.

When I look at Ryan Mallett I see a prospect that has plenty of maturing to do on and off the field, but the talent is there. Surround this kid with patient coaches and a good group of veterans and he may surprise.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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