Arkansas quarterback Ryan Malllett made his long expected decision to enter the 2011 NFL draft public Thursday, hours after Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck announced his intention to return to school. Cue the shot of a wild, southern-style, moonshine-fueled party at the Mallett household.
With Luck’s moronic decision to pass up the near-certainty of being the No. 1 overall pick in April, Mallett immediately moves up a few spots in the draft. The redshirt junior now will only have to battle Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, Auburn’s Cam Newton and Washington’s Jake Locker to be the first quarterback selected.
Mallett had a great run at Arkansas. This year he became just the fourth player in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. He finished the year seventh in the nation with a 163.7 quarterback rating, after throwing for 3,869 yards with 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also completed 64.7 percent of his passes. After back-to-back great seasons, it was time for the 6’6, 238-pound quarterback to take the next step. He has a howitzer of an arm and just has to work on some of his decision making, his checkdowns and keep improving his footwork.
Currently Mallett is No. 16 on Mel Kiper’s Big Board, while Gabbert is the top quarterback at No. 8, Newton is No. 12 and Locker is No. 24.
Meanwhile, Scouts Inc. has different rankings. They have Gabbert at No. 20 (grade of 93), Locker at No. 23 (92), Newton at No. 29 (90) and Mallett at No. 32 (90). To give you an idea of how lucky these guys just got, Andrew Luck graded out as a 98 and was the No. 1 player on Scouts Inc.’s list.
So Mallett clearly made the right decision to come out. He now has to be solidly in the mix as the first quarterback taken. With Gabbert’s lack of production, the uncertainty of how Newton will translate to the NFL and Locker’s awful 2010 season, Mallett just may be the safest choice as the first quarterback to come off the board.
The Mallett family should probably send Luck a fruit basket or something.