Ryan Mallett is the top QB prospect

Ryan Mallett could end up being a steal in this year's NFL draft. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In 1970, Bill Walsh was the top offensive assistant for Paul Brown's Cincinnati Bengals. Walsh had devised a vertical passing game built around quarterback Greg Cook, the top draft pick in 1969, but a shoulder injury forced Cook to retire after one season. This left Walsh with the weak-armed Virgil Carter at quarterback.

Carter was good at diagnosing coverages and getting the ball out of the pocket quickly. Walsh knew that trying to run a vertical offense was not going to work, so he created the system that evolved into the West Coast offense.

Even the greatest playcaller in NFL history could not use a one-size-fits-all approach to quarterbacking, instead adapting his offensive philosophy to his quarterback's strengths and weaknesses.

That lesson seems to be lost when it comes to comparing Ryan Mallett and Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert is currently considered by many pundits to be the No. 1 quarterback in this draft, but a metric and game scouting review of the two provides several pieces of evidence to show that Mallett is the better choice.

Here are Gabbert's numbers from the four games in which he faced an opponent from a BCS automatic qualifying school that ended up ranked in the top 40 in passer rating allowed (at Texas A&M Aggies, versus Oklahoma Sooners, at Nebraska Cornhuskers and versus Iowa Hawkeyes in the Insight Bowl). The idea here is to see how he fared against top-level competition: