NFL Draft 2011: Ryan Mallet, 74th Pick, Most Talked-About Pick in Draft

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NFL Draft 2011: Ryan Mallet, 74th Pick, Most Talked-About Pick in Draft
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Ryan throwing downhill

Are they talking about Cam Newton, pick No. 1? Not much. The quarterback being talked about is pick No. 74, at which potential stud quarterback Ryan Mallett went to the New England Patriots.

Why?

First, the NFL is a league where running college quarterbacks have not always prospered. The Patriots' Drew Bledsoe may have said it best: "I'll believe in running quarterbacks when one of them wins the Super Bowl."

So Cam Newton does not meet that standard.

Secondly, pure pocket passers have done well with a little bit of running. A prime example would be Big Ben of Pittsburgh, who also was able to make the famous tackle that stopped the Jerome Bettis fumble from becoming the touchdown which would have caused Pittsburgh to lose and Indianapolis to have won their first Super Bowl.

Mallett meets this standard.

Third, size and bulk are important as with Big Ben, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

Newton and Mallett both meet this standard.

Mark McCormick, the legendary sports agent, may have said it best about insights into people and their thinking.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bobby Orr back at the Garden

"Clues come in small things," McCormick wrote in his book What You Didn't Learn at Harvard Business School. "If you want to know if people are nice, see how they treat people who can't hurt them, like waiters. If you want to know if they are great athletes, find out if people were talking about them at 12." 

Mallett passes this test. However, not a word about 12-year-old Cam Newton that I have read or heard.

The most famous Boston athlete touted at 12 was Bobby Orr. He was somehow drafted then, as was done in those days, and sportswriters were talking about the next coming of Gordy Howe. They were right. Larry Bird had some of the same talk coming out of French Lick, Indiana. And now Ryan Mallett.

At Texas High, Scott Surratt matched up Ryan Mallett as an eighth grader against the starting senior quarterback. As the story goes, Surratt said Mallett was a sophomore. According to Surratt, Mallett did just fine. Mallett moved on to be the third pick nationally coming out of high school. In other words, college scouts rated Mallett as the number 3 pick, overall, of all graduating high school students.

This is no one-year wonder, as Cam Newton is reported to be.

Scott Loeffer, Mallett's recruiter to Michigan, said, "He came out at 6'6" at 240 lbs., with arm strength not to be believed."

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Jabbar with his classic hook shot

Mallett started as a Freshman. At Michigan! Our Tom Brady didn't start until a senior. When a new Spread Option system came in for his sophomore year, Mallett showed good judgment, transferred to Arkansas, sat out for a year, and then started his last two years having 60 percent pass completions, 7,493 yards passing, 62 touchdowns and only 19 interceptions.

The clue here is that young Mallett chose to sit for a year rather than try to change a new coach's mind at Michigan. Speaks well to Mallett's ability to sit patiently and await opportunity, as he must under Brady and Bill Belichick.

Mallett knows when to hold them and fold them, at his young age. Note that he did not "wait" until benched as a sophomore at Michigan; he bailed out immediately. So he can pull the trigger on his passes and thinking!

Now he is at the Athlete Performance Facility in Frisco getting tuned up for his NFL career. As the head there said, "He could be doing a lot of other things."

All of this sounds like the young man who is a member of a football family, something Belichick deeply admires in players. They grew up with it at the dinner table.

Another young man talked about at 12 on the New York Times sports page of all places was Lew Alcindor, later to be known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar!

The Patriots have the potential pick of the 2011 Draft. We'll see.

That's why they play the games.

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