Name: Alex Malzone
Malzone is a 24/7 composite four star, In-state commit from the great Birmingham Brother Rice program. Malzone won 39 straight games as a starter, including back to back state championships. He has been committed to the Wolverines since May of 2014. He had held offers from nine other schools, most of which were from the MAC. Malzone has been the glue of the Wolverines 15′ class since last may, holding steadfast during the firing of Brady Hoke saying he “Gave his word to a school, not to a coach”. I first saw Malzone play as a sophomore, and from his first snap he has impressed. During his senior season he threw for over 2,900 yards with thirty-eight touchdowns to only five interceptions. Malzone is an early enrollee and will room with Saginaw Heritage’s Brian Cole this winter.
Style of Passer: Pro
Even though we live in an era where the “small” quarterback can be successful you’d still be more comfortable having your guy be in the 6’3-6’6 range. Not everyone can be Drew Brees or Russell Wilson, so only time will tell if Malzone can be another in the line of recently successful smaller quarterbacks. While Malzone is not exactly lacking size, The fact of the matter is, he could he taller and larger. You’d like to see him add some lower body muscle and reduce his risk of injury once he gets into the weight room in Ann Arbor this winter.
Arm Strength: B+
Malzone’s arm is slightly above average. He can drive the ball down the field with ease, thanks in part to his good footwork. He can put more than enough zip on the ball to complete the three step passes like slants or quick outs. Something Malzone is especially good at is timing routes like come backs or sidelines whether it’s down the field or just a few yards, he has the arm to get it there. Malzone always had a very talented supporting cast at Brother Rice, one that included Division one receivers Corey Laccanaria (Ball State) and Grant Perry (Northwestern) that at times helped him out when forcing the ball into coverage, but nonetheless he has the arm to get it in there.
This is Malzone’s strong suit, as he is a very efficient passer. He has a 66.8% career completion percentage over his three years seeing time under center, with only fourteen interceptions in over 600 career pass attempts. He has great touch on sideline throws as well as the back shoulder. Any actions/roll-outs/sprint-outs are money, as are his play fakes. But what impresses me the most is Malzone’s ability to find the open man and either hit him in stride or put the ball where no one else can get it. His touch is great, weather its a corner or flag route to the sideline or a deep slant down the field. He does have the tendency to force throws, but he had the talent at receiver to help him out in high school. At Michigan, he’ll have the talent at receiver, but the big difference will be the talent he will be going against on defense. Some of the throws he landed at Brother Rice will be going the other way at Michigan.
Mobility/Pocket Presence: B+
While Malzone will never be confused for a dual-threat quarterback, he can definitely move. He will always look to throw the ball first but when the play is completely broken down, Malzone will skirt off and has the ability to make one or two defenders miss. He is great throwing the ball when out of the pocket, weather by design of a play action or a roll out or extending the play. He keeps his eyes downfield and finds the open man with ease. Malzone’s athletic ability will also keep him out of the arms of defenders in the pocket. He is well trained, and will keep his shoulders square and eyes down the field while evading pressure.
While Malzone’s delivery was sufficient in high school, it will need work at the next level. His delivery motion is somewhat long, and while the ball does not come out slow, he leaves it extended away from his body for defenders to knock away. Malzone throws it like a baseball. To put it simply, his throwing motion needs to be shorter, and more compact. A few months with Michigan’s expected new offensive coordinator Tim Drevno and I expect Malzone will improve in this area by leaps and bounds. One thing Malzone does exceptionally well, is I have yet to see him make a throw off his back foot, which is a huge no no for a quarterback and you tend to see often with younger QB’s. He steps into his throws with confidence, with square shoulders and great weight transfer. His throwing motion is the only thing bringing his grade down here, otherwise his mechanics are fantastic.
Decision Making/Football IQ: B
This is where Malzone is a little enigmatic. He will more often than not find the open receiver when extending the play out of the pocket, and he often makes the right reads of the defense in the short passing game. Where Malzone fails however is forcing the ball into not only double, but sometimes triple coverage. As I stated earlier he has been helped out his whole career by Division one caliber receivers. The more it worked for Malzone, the more he seemed to force the ball into coverage as his season went on. And while it may not seem like an issue, what with his 66.8 career completion percentage and only 14 career interceptions, a continuation of these decisions will cost him at the next level. It May just be a case of trusting his arm and receivers too much, but only time will tell.
This grade is a little harsh, but there are a few things Malzone will need to work on to be successful for the Wolverines. There is nothing he can do about his small stature, so he will simply have to prove that his height is not an issue at the next level. I do not think Malzone has an NFL type arm, but that does not mean he doesn’t have what it takes to succeed in college. His accuracy is everything you ask for in a quarterback, as his throws are on the money. Yes, he may force throws too often but when he does the ball is usually placed where only the receiver can get it. His mobility and athleticism for a pocket passer is a huge plus if your an offense that will run bootlegs and sprint outs, which all pro style offenses will feature. If the play breaks down and he has no throwing options, he is more than capable to take off and pick up a short first down but probably not much more. With improvements in his throwing motion and sometimes inconsistent decision making, Malzone will flourish into a starting caliber quarterback in Ann Arbor.