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A stunning pick, but Mallett makes a ton of sense for Patriots

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Posted April 29, 2011 @ 10 p.m. ET
By Kevin Fishbain

Raise your hand if you had the Patriots in your "which team will end the Ryan Mallett slide and take a chance on him" pool?

That's what I thought.

With their wealth of picks and Tom Brady turning 34 before the 2011 season begins, it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the Patriots take a quarterback. But it was certainly a stunning move by Bill Belichick to take the guy with arguably the most off-the-field concerns of any of the high-profile names in this draft — there was a reason the strongest arm was available at pick No. 74.

But this pick makes a whole lot of sense for New England.

Immediately, it doesn't impact the roster at all. Brian Hoyer will likely remain and the Pats will carry three quarterbacks. New England presents a good situation for Mallett, whose defensive and awkward Combine press conference helped contribute to the free fall of his draft stock. Brady and Belichick are a good duo to keep Mallett in line as a professional. Belichick showed last year when he suspended DE Brandon Deaderick for reportedly being late for meetings that he won't put up with immature behavior.

Expect Brady to take Mallett under his wing and help the cannon-armed QB to live up to his potential. Mallett will have plenty of time to get rid of his negative reputation without the pressure to compete for the starting job.

Worst-case scenario? Mallett becomes a bust and his character concerns are a legitimate problem. The team realizes he is a distraction and parts ways with him, knowing all they wasted was a third-round pick who was a backup anyway, as Brady still has a few more years left.

Best-case scenario? There are two. Mallett could develop for the next two years under Brady and Belichick and prove to be great trade value. If we learned anything in this draft, we learned how valuable the quarterback position is, and how many teams are still desperate for the franchise signalcaller. It would be a similar situation to Matt Cassel, and the Patriots could find Brady's heir apparent elsewhere.

The other best-case scenario? That Belichick did it again, stealing a franchise quarterback like he did with Brady. Mallett is to Brady what Brady was to Drew Bledsoe and becomes the Patriots' quarterback of the future, making a seamless transition when Brady's time in the league is done.

Teams want the Packers' situation — where Aaron Rodgers had a couple years to learn under future Hall of Famer Brett Favre with no pressure on him. Then, when the team handed Rodgers the reins, he delivers them a Super Bowl. And in the best-case scenario for Belichick and the Patriots, Mallett could be that guy.

The pick was a huge surprise, and if Mallett doesn't pan out, the Patriots would simply lose a backup third-round pick. Not a lot of harm done there.

And if it works? It would be the steal of the 2011 draft.

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