best counter

Your Ad Here
Just The Sports: Ryan Mallett's NFL Draft Prospects: Will The Real Ryan Mallett Please Stand Up?

Just The Sports

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ryan Mallett's NFL Draft Prospects: Will The Real Ryan Mallett Please Stand Up?

Like his quarterback colleague Cameron Newton, former University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett's collegiate career raises more questions than it provides answers, and before any NFL team drafts Mallett, that franchise must first figure out just which Ryan Mallett is the true one.

The first Ryan Mallett the college football world saw after his transfer from the University of Michigan was the 2009 vintage. That Ryan Mallett completed a very inaccurate 55.8 percent of his passes, but his season was saved by his 9.0 yards per pass attempt, thanks to an average of 16.2 yards per receptions, and his 30 touchdowns (7.4 touchdown percentage) to 7 interceptions (1.7 interception percentage).

Based on his passing profile where he had a low completion percentage paired with a high yards per attempt average, the 2009 version of Mallett could best be classified as a boom-or-bust quarterback. As the name suggests, a boom-or-bust quarterback is not the kind of quarterback on which a team should want to rely.

While a boom-or-bust quarterback will net his team some big plays, he will almost as often, as Mallett's 55.8 completion percentage can attest, throw an incompletion, thereby robbing the offense of consistency and efficiency.

A lack of consistency was the hallmark of 2009 Mallett's season. The standard deviation, which is a great tool for measuring consistency, of Mallett's completion percentage was a remarkable, in a truly terrible way, 0.187. The standard deviation for most quarterbacks' completion percentages is around 0.100; anything too high above that is the sign of a very inconsistent passer, of whom you cannot be too sure about.

From an NFL standpoint, what teams should focus on is not the gaudy yards per pass attempt or stellar yards per completion. As research I did a few years ago turned up, yards per pass attempt and yards per completion in college have no bearing on what the same quarterback's yards per pass attempt and yards per completion will be in the NFL.

It is a college quarterback's completion percentage that corresponds most to his NFL career as it is the very rare NFL quarterback whose NFL completion percentage is statistically significantly better than his college mark.

Ryan Mallett's 2009 season speaks to a quarterback whose issues with inaccuracy are too great to predict he would be very successful in the NFL since he was below both the median completion percentage of 59.3 percent for qualifying FBS quarterbacks in 2009 and the median completion percentage of 60.7 percent of qualifying NFL quarterbacks in 2009. By any measure, Mallett's 2009 completion percentage was a below-average one.

Mallett's accuracy problem is one it would seem the 2010 version of Mallett solved, but just how representative his 2010 completion percentage is of his true passing talent is almost impossible to determine. In the season that ended only a couple of weeks ago for Mallett, he completed 64.6 percent of his passes, gained 9.5 yards per pass attempt, and threw 31 touchdowns (7.8 touchdown percentage) to 12 interceptions (3.0 interception percentage) in games where he was Arkansas's primary quarterback.

Compared to his 2009 season, Mallett's completion percentage increased by 15.8 percent, an improvement so drastic one has to question just how sustainable it really is. Some of the increase in his accuracy has to do with the fact his yards per completion dropped to 14.7 so he was not throwing as many deep, harder to complete passes, and there is a correlation of -0.276 between Mallett's yards per completion and his completion percentage.

The negative correlation shows there is a inverse relationship between the two data sets where as his yards per completion decreased, then his completion percentage increased, but the correlation is not strong enough to explain the entire incredible leap in passing accuracy.

No one can definitively say without a shadow of a doubt that Mallett is now a 64.6 percent passer because still lurking in the background is his 2009 season where he was amazingly erratic as a passer.

The first impulse is to give added weight to his 2010 season because it happened most recently, but plenty of athletes' most recent seasons are not characteristic of their true ability.

However, there is no denying that he did make some legitimate improvement so his 2009 season probably should not be given more weight, either. Therefore, it is most likely that Mallett's true accuracy lies somewhere in the middle, but just where in the middle is the question.

Perhaps Mallett's true accuracy is smack dab in the middle since his career completion percentage at Arkansas is 60.2 percent; his career yards per attempt average is 9.3, his career touchdown percentage is 7.6 percent, and his career interception percentage is 2.4 percent. If Mallett really is only capable of being a 60.2 percent passer over his NFL career, NFL teams should not be fighting each other to have him on their rosters because that would only make him a league-average passer in terms of accuracy.

Perhaps his accuracy is closer to 55.8 percent than it is to 64.6 percent or perhaps it is reversed and his accuracy is closer to 64.6 percent than 55.8 percent.

Then again, with his career completion percentage's extremely high standard deviation of 0.151, the one thing we do know for certain is that Mallett is too inconsistent to be considered an elite quarterback.

Of course, trying to figure out Mallett's true accuracy might all be a moot point if he is nothing more than a product of his head coach Bobby Petrino's offensive system. Petrino is known to have an offensive scheme that is very friendly to quarterbacks, and if we are to compare Mallett's career to two other college quarterbacks who played two seasons under Petrino, we find that Mallett does not compare favorably.

Former University of Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors was the first college quarterback to have Petrino as a head coach. During LeFors's two seasons under Petrino in which he was Louisville's primary quarterback for 28 games, he completed 66.0 percent of his passes, gained 9.3 yards per pass attempt, and threw 34 touchdowns (5.7 touchdown percentage) to 13 interceptions (2.2 interception percentage).

LeFors's career yards per pass attempt matches Mallett's, and his completion percentage blows Mallett's away. It is not quite statistically significantly better than Mallett's, but it is not far away, either. Also, LeFors's completion percentage's standard deviation of only 0.100 shows him to be a much more consistent passing quarterback.

Despite playing in the same offensive system and having a college career that is better than Mallett's because of the superior completion percentage, LeFors is now a free-agent quarterback after failing to stick in the Canadian Football League.

Former University of Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm is the other college quarterback who spent at least two seasons under Petrino. During Brohm's 22 games as Louisville's primary quarterback in that time frame, he completed 66.2 percent of his passes, gained 9.7 yards per pass attempt, and threw 36 touchdowns (5.7 touchdown percentage) to 10 interceptions (1.6 interception percentage).

Brohm actually has a better yards per pass attempt average than Mallett, and like Lefors, Brohm is clearly superior in completion percentage and accuracy. Brohm was also incredibly more consistent during his time under Petrino as his completion percentage's standard deviation is only 0.089. There is no question Brohm was a better college quarterback for Petrino than Mallett was.

Brohm is now a back-up quarterback for the Buffalo Bills.

If two quarterbacks who played better for Petrino than Mallett did cannot even become full-time starters in the NFL, it calls into question whether Mallett is capable of being a successful NFL quarterback; that is on top of the other questions his career raises.

Not only is there no telling which of the two Ryan Malletts, the 2009 version or the 2010 version, is a more accurate portrait of the kind of quarterback he is, but he is not even the best college quarterback his coach ever coached.

Based on those two aspects, NFL teams would be smart to stay away from Mallett and let some other team find out how good or bad he really is. There is simply too much uncertainty surrounding him to risk investing a great deal of money into such an inconsistent and possibly mediocre quarterback.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home