Bahn: Mallett's Patience Tested, Then Rewarded As Patriots Select Him In Round 3

by Chris Bahn  on Saturday, Apr. 30, 2011 5:00 pm  

Ryan Mallett visits with the New England Patriots as agent J.R. Carroll reacts. Mallett was taken Friday in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Mallett left the program in January to begin his pro career. He impressed scouts at the NFL Combine, but was widely criticized for a poor showing with NFL media as questions about his off-field behavior persisted.

Still, teams were interested enough in Mallett to meet with him in person following the draft. He crisscrossed the country to meet with a number of organizations and his final in-person meeting was a two-day visit with New England.

ESPN analysts praised the pick by the Patriots. It was just the sort of “value” selection the organization is known for and Mallett should get the opportunity to learn without being thrust immediately into game action. Brady turns 34 this year and this move could set Mallett up as a replacement down the road.

Former NFL coach and current analyst Jon Gruden, like those in the Mallett camp, thought the situation was a good one as the record-setting Razorback enters the league.

“It’s the best thing that could ever happen to Ryan Mallett,” Gruden said during the broadcast on ESPN2. “I don’t care if he’s the first pick in the draft, I’d rather be in the position he’s in now.”

Maybe so, but the lead-up was definitely a test of Mallett’s patience. He had plenty of support around him, but by the time the third round began he was showing signs the process was wearing on him.

Friday saw four quarterbacks taken. Auburn’s Cam Newton went No. 1 overall to Carolina and Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert went No. 10 to Jacksonville. Both were projected to go ahead of Mallett, it was a bit of a surprise when Tennessee selected Washington’s Jake Locker No. 8 and the Minnesota Vikings drafted Florida State’s Christian Ponder No. 12.

TCUs Andy Dalton was taken 35th by the Cincinnati Bengals. Utah’s Colin Kaepernick went the very next pick to the San Francisco 49ers. Shortly thereafter Mallett decided to stretch his legs and get away from the TV.

“I had to stop watching. It was getting ridiculous, but I got the call,” Mallett said. “I’m excited. It’s hard to believe. It’s hard to grasp.”

And it’s hard to imagine a better situation for Mallett as he matures and learns to play quarterback in the NFL.



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