Ryan Mallett a hot topic in Miami

At the beginning of the pre-draft scouting process, Mark Ingram was the center of attention in most talks pertaining to what the Dolphins would do with their first-round pick. Although Ingram at 15 was never unanimously agreed upon amongst Dolphin faithful, the outside media once portrayed him going to Miami as nearly a sure thing. How things change in a matter of weeks.

It’s becoming more and more apparent that Ryan Mallett is the fan favorite among first-round caliber prospects. Not saying that every fan is high on Mallett, and certainly there are people out there that hope the Dolphins stay clear of his “character issues,” but it’s safe to say that a higher percentage of Dolfans want Miami to draft Mallett over any other prospect.

The media is beginning to open up to the idea as well. More and more mock drafts are penciling in Mallett’s name as the 15th overall selection. And most importantly, the Dolphins appear very interested in the former Razorback.

The front office reportedly began a two-day meeting with Mallett today in South Florida, which marks their fourth meeting/workout with him since the NFL Combine. So either they are strongly considering taking Mallett somewhere in the first-round and are doing as much homework as they can on one of the draft’s most polarizing prospects, or they are going way, way out of their way to create one big diverting smokescreen. Even putting my personal bias aside, as I’ve been a huge advocate of the Dolphins drafting Mallett since January, I tend to side with the former over the latter. Let’s take a glance around the web at some of the headlines relative to Mallett today.

Gruden host Mallett on ESPN’s QB Camp
Ryan Mallett got the chance to sit down with Jon Gruden on ESPN’s always entertaining Quarterback Camp. If you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check it out right here. Gruden grilled Mallett some on how to handle the blitz, something many draft experts warn Mallett will struggle with at the next level. But we do get a great look at how Mallett digest the X’s and O’s of the game. For a guy that some have called “dumber than a box of rocks,” Mallett sure seems like he grasps the mental aspect of the game just fine.

Sport Science chronicles Mallett’s size and arm strength
If you’re a fan of Sport Science, their Ryan Mallett feature is a much watch. As you can see, Mallett has truly elite size at 6’6 with hands that would be proportional on the body of Yao Ming and a laser rocket arm. Legitimate or not, Mallett’s so-called character concerns will likely cost him millions of dollars on draft day because the kid has the physical make-up of a top five pick.

Michael Lombardi seems to think the Dolphins may have to trade UP to land Mallett
I’ve heard the theory that the Dolphins can trade down, acquire a second-round pick, and still land Mallett later in round one, but on Michael Lombardi’s curveball mock draft, Miami trades up to the 10th spot in the first-round to draft him. Lombardi seems to think that the Minnesota Vikings, who select 12th, could snag Mallett before the Dolphins have the chance to. That theory is a little out there for me, as I suppose that’s why it’s called a “curveball mock draft,” but who knows, there are surprises in every draft. After all, the Vikings do need a quarterback, and you would have to believe that they’re well aware of Mallett’s upside too.

If the Vikings are secretly targeting Mallett, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea of trading up if the Dolphins are convicted Mallett can be their franchise quarterback. The cost to do so would be discouraging, as the Dolphins are in the business of adding picks not trading them away, but it would be worth it for a franchise quarterback. Let’s hope the Vikings aren’t serious players in the Mallett sweepstakes, though, as the Dolphins need all their picks and any others they can get with all the holes they have of offense and with currently no free agency to address them.

McShay, Billick not fond of the Dolphins drafting Mallett
Lombardi is one draft “expert” that has warmed up to the idea of Mallett in Miami. Don’t include Todd McShay and Brian Billick on that list. McShay told the Sun-Sentinel that he doesn’t believe Mallett is the answer for the Dolphins. “Ryan Mallett – I just don’t know where you take him,” McShay said. “Are you going to trade back and take him? Or are you going to take him at 15 overall? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Packaging picks to move up for a guy that just had character concerns and you’re not sure is going to be the leader and have the maturity that you want him to [have]. I just – I don’t know. Maybe I’m missing something here but I just don’t see him as the right answer for the Miami Dolphins.”

While Brian Billick told WQAM radio that, “I don’t care if he’s taken at 1, 5, 10 or 15, if you think he’s a franchise quarterback, you take him,” he also warned of Mallett falling in the footsteps of the biggest bust at the quarterback position of all time. “I like what he does physically,” Billick said. “There’s some things I’m worried about: his maturity–He’s got Ryan Leaf written all over him. I don’t mean to kill the guy that way. … That would be a concern for me to take him 15th.”

Mallett defends his character
We keep hearing about all these character concerns that Mallett has, but to my knowledge, the only thing that has been proven is that he was caught underage drinking. Not to downplay that offense by any means, but when you hear some of the nasty things being said about Mallett, you probably would guess far worse. Well, Mallett finally got a chance to defend himself a little bit to 790 The Ticket. Just goes to show that some of these “character concerns” may be getting slightly overblown.

Enough about Mallett’s mobility
I’m frankly just puzzled by why some are making such a big deal about Mallett’s lack of athleticism. Ideally, yes, you would like a quarterback with some escape-ability back there, but do people really not stop and realize that the quarterbacks who have had the most success in this league are of the slow, non-athletic mold. Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino, the list goes on and on. Mallett has the arm to make every throw in football. That’s all he really needs. That’s why I roll my eyes at Armando Salguero’s post on Miami Dolphins in Depth today. Armando criticizes Mallet’s mobility, his character, how he handles the blitz, how he handled clutch moments at Arkansas, and how he had better numbers against teams like UTEP than ranked opponents (duh). It’s worthy of a read, though, if you’re not convinced on Mallett yet and want to hear both sides of the argument.

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