Tuesday's SportsNation chat turned into an interesting discussion on the importance of speed for quarterbacks and how closely it relates to mobility.
(Yes, we can be football geeks around here.)
At issue was the 40 time posted Tuesday by Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, who ran a 5.37. As ESPN analyst Todd McShay pointed out in an interview at the scouting combine, there already was some concern that Mallett -- who is 6-foot-6 3/4ths and 253 pounds -- would be a sitting duck in the pocket against NFL pass-rushers. A slow 40 time only adds to that perception, and it was with that background that I volleyed with a few of you.
Matt P (Berkshire, NY)
Did Ryan Mallet hurt his draft stock by running 5.37? Do you think the Vikings have a chance at him in the 2nd round now?
Kevin Seifert (2:16 PM)
It probably just reinforced the notion that he could be a strong-armed statute in the pocket. Drew Bledsoe had a pretty decent career in that mold. Before today and after, Mallett is a second-round pick that could climb into the first round if one particular team really likes him.
Do people even realize the difference between a 4.6 and 5.3 40-time? Its bang-bang. Its not quite a photo finish but its close to one. For a QB, that is almost totally irrelevant. Oh I forgot, Joe Montana and Dan Marino ran 4.3's. Give me a break.
Kevin Seifert (2:26 PM)
Referring to Mallett. Agreed that sometimes these things are silly. But if there are already concerns about a player's mobility, and then he runs a time that is relatively significantly slower than most players at his position, it's at least another piece of evidence.
Re: Mallett's 40 time. Peyton Manning ran like a 12.8. My point is, it's irrelevant to how well or how poorly of an NFL QB Mallett will be.
Kevin Seifert (2:27 PM)
But Manning has a deadly quick release that serves as his answer to the pass rush. Does Mallett have that, or have some other kind of intangible that will render his speed moot? That's yet to be determined.
RE: Mallet. I am not a fan of his and would never draft him, but the top QBs of all time represent a laundry list of those with little to no mobility. On the flip side, the one thing in common with the most mobile QBs of all time- no rings! None, zilch, nada. Barely even a conference title game on their resume.
Kevin Seifert (2:34 PM)
This is not a discussion about quarterbacks like Michael Vick or Randall Cunningham. It's about a quarterback having the skills, whether it's Matt Ryan or Aaron Rodgers or Jay Cutler, to move in the pocket, re-set and throw. It doesn't mean running for a first down. It means not getting sacked the moment a pass rusher gets into the backfield.
RE: Mallet. You proved my point, so thank you. Its not about running a 4.6, it's about maneuvering yourself just enough to be able to continue with your reads and make a throw. Mallet is no more immobile than so many elite QBs before him.
Kevin Seifert (2:41 PM)
I think there is more nuance there. What I'm saying is he already has a reputation for being immobile. A slow 40 time adds to that reputation. Do you believe he has the ability to maneuver and continue with his reads and make a throw?
RE: Mallet. No, in all honesty I do not think he has that ability. You are probably right. But in general there seem to be no more "splitting hairs" these days. If you run a 4.4.9 you are a speedster, but a 4.51 and you are a slow and worthless. Mallet may not quite have it, but its not like he will be a sumo wrestler back there either. Btw I love your work.
Kevin Seifert (2:45 PM)
The point of posting that exchange was not to sneak in Corey's final line. (Although I appreciated it.) It was to replicate what I think many football people are mulling in their evaluation of Mallett.
From most accounts, Mallett wowed scouts with his arm strength and touch during Tuesday's Arkansas pro day. NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks, who attended the workout, wrote Mallett was "absolutely sensational" and that "his natural talent is unrivaled in this year's draft." The real question on Mallett, Brooks acknowledged, is whether he can reset his feet and throw accurately after avoiding a pass rush. Brooks: "He didn't really get a chance to showcase those skills in this controlled workout, but he will need to show those skills in private workouts."
I don't write off a player like Mallett because he ran a 5.37, and I wouldn't go wild over him if he recorded a 4.5. The 40-time is simply one piece of information that, combined with other pieces, can help us paint the picture of a prospect.