The Patriots made maybe the draft's biggest surprise by taking Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett with the 74th overall pick. Mallett slid all the way to the third round because of a laundry list of off-the-field concerns, but he has a cannon for an arm. The Patriots have had success taking backup quarterbacks late (see: Matt Cassel) and could develop Mallett as Tom Brady's heir apparent or trade bait. Here is PFW draft expert Nolan Nawrocki's scouting report on Mallett:
Notes: Son of a high school coach in Texas. Highly recruited Texarkana product who was a Parade and USA Today All-American and Texas' Gatorade Player of the Year. Committed to Michigan and then-head coach Lloyd Carr in '07 - backed up Dolphins '08 second-rounder Chad Henne, playing 11 games (three starts as an injury replacement) and completing 61-of-141 pass attempts (43.3 percent) for 892 yards with seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Believing his skills would not fit new head coach Rich Rodriguez's spread offense, Mallett transferred to Arkansas and sat out '08 per NCAA rules. Missed the final two weeks of spring practice after dislocating his right (throwing) thumb. Was arrested early March '09 for public intoxication then suffered a minor left shoulder injury during spring practice. In the fall, led the Southeastern Conference in touchdown passes and passing yards (278.8 per game) and set or tied 16 school passing records - started all 13 games and passed 225-403-3,624-30-7 (55.8), including a national-best 44 completions of 25 yards or more. Had surgery in January '10 to tighten his left shoulder. Broke his left foot during February '10 conditioning drills. In the fall, amassed 266-411-3,869-32-12 (64.7) in 13 starts. Missed time with concussion (Auburn) and right shoulder injury (Ole Miss). Elected to not perform 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill or shuttle runs at Combine. Team captain. Had a 21-8 career starting record.
Positives: Has excellent size and a rocket arm to laser the ball into tight windows and effortlessly heave it 70 yards. Has a tall, over-the-top delivery and a high release point. Rare arm strength - can generate the ball velocity of a JUGS machine and make every throw without setting his feet. Rallied come-from-behind victories vs. Georgia and LSU on the road and can flip the field quickly.
Negatives: Very streaky. Makes ill-advised decisions zeroing in on receivers and overly relying on his arm strength. Needs to learn to subtract from his fastball. Is too easily rattled by pressure and struggles to sidestep the rush and maneuver in the pocket - cannot escape his own shadow. Mechanics always could be a problem (too many moving parts) - and the ball tends to sail. Inconsistent accuracy and ball placement and it diminishes greatly on the move, where he makes his receivers work too hard for the ball. Limited field vision - does not cycle through progressions. Flustered against Alabama, taking back-to-back delay-of-game penalties while looking to the sideline for the call, and could not close on big stages against Alabama or Ohio State. Received a personal foul vs. Texas A&M for dropping an elbow. Does not play with energy or demonstrate on-field command. Immature, is not a respected leader and character needs to be evaluated very closely. Does not come across well in interviews and must prove his commitment to the game.
Summary: A tall, lumbering, rocket-balling pocket passer who sprays live bullets, Mallett began to settle down as a senior and fits very well in a vertical passing attack, but issues still reside about his makeup and lack of maturity. Will not be able to live off his arm talent alone in the NFL, and his inaccuracy and shaky decision making are concerning.
NFL projection: Second- to third-round pick.