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Mallett's Combine interview hardly helps stock

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Feb. 26, 2011 @ 6:39 p.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

INDIANAPOLIS — From the first question to the last in his extremely well-attended interview session with the national media Saturday afternoon at the NFL Scouting Combine, Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett certainly didn't do anything to improve his steadily sinking stock in the upcoming draft.

Mallett consistently offered "no comment" responses to the queries that just kept coming regarding recent widespread reports of drug allegations and character issues that allegedly have raised a huge red flag in the NFL scouting community. He made Bears QB Jay Cutler look like Tim Tebow in comparison.

As was the case with Cutler's widely criticized exit from the NFC championship game, Mallett's refusal to face the music in a professional fashion set off a Twitter firestorm, with numerous critics instantly blasting him like there was no tomorrow.

It was a performance that had to make fellow QB Cam Newton, who faced the media not long after Mallett spoke, feel instantly more comfortable about how he would be received.

"I've got the interviews with the teams, and they will know what they need to know, and I will leave it at that," said Mallett, whose pro-caliber arm strength was greatly overshadowed by his weak effort in front of the media masses.

Not that it mattered much to his interrogators, Mallett did offer responses to other types of questions.

He mentioned how much he benefited from playing under Bobby Petrino at Arkansas, particularly in terms of learning defensive trends.

He talked about how much he hoped to emulate the likes of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning as far as controlling the line of scrimmage and varying cadences to keep opposing defenses off balance.

But when he said he thought he was a "great person," and did not flinch with a follow-up remark about just laughing off allegations he could not control, the rolling eyes in the audience were hard to ignore.

His answer to a question about how he felt about critics who questioned his accuracy and decision making was equally lame.

"Seven-thousand-plus yards and 60 touchdowns in the last two seasons. That's how I respond to that," he said bluntly.

Mallett kept on firing away with scattershot braggadocio that few people were buying, like his response to a question on what sets him apart from the other quarterbacks at the Combine.

"I can't speak on their mental games, but that's my strength, knowing defenses and recognizing what they will do on certain downs and distances," he said.

Mallett did offer an acceptable answer when asked about how much playing in the SEC has helped him.

"There are a lot of great players in the SEC," Mallett said. "The speed of the game is so great and there is a lot of complexity, with big changes from week to week. We had to make halftime adjustments all the time.

His response to a question about the benefits of his 6-foot-6 size was equally plausible: "It allows me to see down the field and kind of feel things coming," he said. "I will move around in the pocket and find the open guy."

But Mallett's refusal to elaborate on the pressing issues that everybody in the media was so understandably clamoring for left a sour taste that figures to last a long time.

"I feel like I have confidence in myself," Mallett said. "I know there are some people that don't like it, I but I can't do anything about it."

Which is really too bad, in addition to being more than a little sad.

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