What is Ryan Mallet actually worth, and should the Browns be interested?

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The extension Tom Brady signed with the New England Patriots (3 years, 27$ million) has created an interesting situation. Ryan Mallett, the former Arkansas Razorback, is only signed through 2014 and will likely not see a snap under center as long as Brady is healthy. Should the Browns try to strike a deal with Pats?

The following are some pros/cons regarding Ryan Mallett.

Pros:

1. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreat College stats

Passing (from sports-reference.com)

Passing
Year School Conf Class Pos Cmp Att Pct Yds Y/A AY/A TD Int Rate
2007 Michigan Big Ten FR QB 61 141 43.3 892 6.3 5.7 7 5 105.7
2009 Arkansas SEC SO QB 225 403 55.8 3624 9.0 9.7 30 7 152.5
2010 Arkansas SEC JR QB 266 411 64.7 3869 9.4 9.7 32 12 163.6

During a season when Cam Newton was taking the league by storm, Ryan Mallett was quietly having one of the best single seasons in recent NCAA history. His passing attempts (411) and yards (3869) led the SEC, and ranked in the top 5 of the NCAA. He threw for a tidy 9.7 yds/att, and a 64.7% completion rate. (above) He was universally lauded for having an "elite" arm, and threw the ball with incredible touch for a man of his stature. He scored a 26 on the Wonderlic, and the average for a qb is around 24.

Speaking of stature, Ryan is statuesque. He came out of college at 6'6 and 238 lbs, and has spent most of the last 2 years working on his physique. (He didn't have anything else to do but hold a clip board and not get caught picking his nose on camera) He can take the hits that are coming from the big boys of the AFC North, and stay in the game. (Something quarterbacks have struggled with in the last decade in Cleveland.)

Also, he is statuesque......in that he's about as mobile as a brick of marble. More on that later.

2. Reasonable acquisition costs if he has franchise leading talent

Finding a franchise quarterback without expending a first round pick on them is almost impossible in the modern NFL. Discounting Drew Brees, who has drafted at the top of the second round, Tom Brady stands alone as a late round gem amongst super bowl contending teams. (There's also very little indication of when Brady would have actually gotten a chance, had Drew Bledsoe not gone down with an injury halfway through the season.)

Mallett would likely cost the Browns a third round pick in the 2013 draft in a trade, at a minimum. The asking price could be higher as the season approaches, but either pick would be a tremendous value if he ends up being the answer for Cleveland in the long term.

3. Fits Chud's system

Rob Chudzinski and Norv Turner fancy tall and strong armed quarterbacks. Brandon Weeden certainly fits the bill, but Mallett represents an unknown commodity. Quarterbacks with prototypical stature, a quality deep ball throwing arm, and nice touch underneath are rare gems.

CONS:

1. Off field issues in college

With a world class arm and unquestionable throwing ability, there's a reason why Ryan Mallett went in the third round. The problem for Ryan was believed to be between the ears, as he's drawn favorable comparisons to Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh" from Bull Durham. He was known as a party boy at UM his freshman year, where he backed up Chad Henne. (He started 3 games for UM, throwing for 892 yards and 7 touchdowns against 5 interceptions) Rich Rodriguez and his spread offense chased him to Arkansas (his local favorite and dream school) the following year, and his reputation followed.

A quick google search for "Mr Scantron" will provide you with fantastic (NSFW) stories about some of Mallett's more colorful moments. What his pickup lines for the Arkansas ladies lack in creativity, they make up for with boldness and a disturbing focus on private parts.

Mallett was generally well regarded by his college teammates, but the stories that circulated about him in college led to some terse moments at the combine and in interviews. The Patriots management team has yet to encounter any problems with Ryan at the professional level, so its a distinct possibility that he's cleared up his act working with Bellichek.

2. Error prone, immobile, poor under pressure, and panned by draftniks

The questionable decision making Ryan has exhibited off the field is also prevalent in most of his game tape. He's thoroughly dominated the lesser competition at the college level but has struggled mightily against the top competition of the SEC and in bowl games. Typically, elite college quarterbacks are capable of producing similar numbers against the best competition they face; even Brady Quinn produced quality numbers at the college level. Analysts expect a slight dip in statistics due to the quality of the defenses and the propensity to make mistakes when playing "catch up" but here are the splits in Mallett's production:

(from http://www.fantasyfootballmetrics.com/Player_News/Content/NFL-Draft_2011_Mallett_2-22-2011.htm)

Mallett vs. his weakest competition = Tennessee Tech, Louisiana-Monroe, UTEP, and Vandy (2-10):

14 TDs and 1 INT

11.8 yards per pass attempt

a Passing TD every 8.0 pass attempts

Mallett vs. his strongest competition = Alabama, LSU, South Carolina, Ohio State:

7 TDs and 7 INTs

9.1 yards per pass attempt

a Passing TD every 23.0 pass attempts

The site (linked above) does a great job of breaking down Mallett's "adjusted" interception rate, against quality opponents, and shows that he was incredibly turnover prone when faced with a high level of competition.

Scouting reports and draft analysis reveal a similar trend. When Mallett faces heavy pressure, one of two things happens frequently: he throws picks, or he drifts in the pocket and throws without putting his body into the throw, resulting in inaccurate passes. He's as mobile as a stump, and prefers to fit balls into tight windows than move around the pocket in an effort to let a receiver get open. These tendencies will sink Mallett at the NFL level if he doesn't receive the proper coaching.

3. Not a good acquisition cost if not a franchise leading talent

A second or third round pick is a fantastic bargain for a quarterback who is starting material. Those kind of picks are an enormous waste of resources for a rebuilding team on a backup quarterback, given that usually 2nd/3rd rounders are starters immediately. (Mitchell Shwartz, Josh Gordon, and John Hughes all started this last year and helped stabilize a position of need.) Cleveland already has a third round pick backing up it's first round pick at quarterback, and using that kind of resource for a talent you're not fully invested in could be a monumental waste of talent. After 2014 Mallett would also be a free agent.

None of this, of course, factors in the use of a first round pick in the previous year for Brandon Weeden, a quarterback with a similar skill set that's already had a year on the team.

Conclusion

In the end, the Browns brain trust must bargain with the Patriots from a position of strength. New England has little use for Mallett as a backup, since he will be gone long before Brady retires and would only play in the event of an injury. The Patriots lose very little re-signing Cassel or Hoyer to provide backup duties, and would gain something of value in any trade for a sunk cost asset.

The potential value of a Ryan Mallett must outweigh the value of Brandon Weeden and a 2nd/3rd round pick (the currently rumored asking price.) When considering this proposal, think about this: Is Weeden and Gordon, or Weeden and Shwartz, worth a quarterback with a similar skill set?

....Your move, Banner/Lombardi.

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