Many New England Patriots fans have been hearing comparisons between second-year backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and former Pats starter Drew Bledsoe, and ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss overheard a scout say, “Ryan Mallett sort of reminds me of Drew Bledsoe.”
The keyword here is “sort of”. Mallett possess great arm strength and both weigh the same (238 pounds), with Mallett being one inch taller (6’6″) than Bledsoe was in his playing days.
The comparisons between them pretty much end there, because the Arkansas product is less stiff in the pocket than Bledsoe was. Although mobility was a rightful knock on Mallett coming out of college, he has become a much better athlete with the Patriots and has a better sense of the pressure coming into the pocket nowadays. He is better at recognizing where the pass rushers are and avoiding them. Sure he isn’t a mobile QB, but Mallett does what is most important; he avoids the pass rush.
The interesting thing is that people are beginning to compare Mallett’s situation to Tom Brady’s situation when he took over for Bledsoe in 2001. That comparison doesn’t make much sense at this point. Brady is clearly better now than Bledsoe was 11 years ago, and there are still doubts as to whether or not Mallett has usurped Brian Hoyer as the No. 2 quarterback on the roster.
In any case, it is fair to say that Ryan Mallett is the future QB for this team when we have to face the facts (don’t want to directly mention it) in the future. Surround him with a deep threat or two and watch Mallett let it fly. But there is a misconception surrounding Mallett, and that is that he cannot make short and intermediate throws.
Based on what I saw in the most recent preseason game, that isn’t the case. While accuracy isn’t a strength for Mallett, he can hit receivers on intermediate routes and successfully complete screen passes. Those aren’t his strengths, but he can do so. At Arkansas, Mallett had talented receivers around him and did an excellent job spreading the ball around and finding the open receiver without locking on a specific player.
I don’t think Mallett is specifically a “vertical” QB, but he definitely fits that system better with his incredible arm strength and downfield accuracy. He’s developed nicely and his progress as he becomes more familiar with the NFL and the Patriots system is apparent. I like his upside, and the Pats can always get a deep threat down the road to help fit to Mallett’s skill-set if they think he can lead this team in the future. The talent is certainly there and Mallett is getting things down, so hold off on those Bledsoe comparisons. Mallett isn’t a statue in the pocket.
Is it too early to tell? Yes. Is the talent there? Yes.
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