Every year, one player defies conventional wisdom and plummets down the draftboard. Sometimes, it has its roots in a shaky performance at the NFL combine. Other times, there's concerns about the measurables (height, weight, 40 yard-dash time). Yet, the most debilitating of draft-day free falls usually stem from the dreaded label of "character issues."
The nebulous and often unfounded term thrown around by supposed "experts" is comparable to an individual standing trial for criminal charges. Once the "guilty" charge has been assessed, there's little to no chance of recovery.
Case in point, former Arkansas and newly drafted New England Patriot QB Ryan Mallett.
His measurables make NFL scouts salivate profusely (height: 6''7", weight: 253 lbs.). His scouting report has first round written all over it. Unquestionably, the strongest arm in the draft. Sure-fire accuracy on short throws, above average accuracy on the deep ball. Arguably the most NFL-ready of any 2011 draftee after thriving in a pro-style offense under Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino.
In addition, Mallet established his ability to read NFL defenses on ESPN's "John Gruden's QB Camp" where he dazzled the former NFL head coach with the ability to verbalize every read and explicate every player's job on the plays Gruden tested him on. He put up monster numbers in his two years at Arkansas (7,493 passing yards, 60.3 completion percentage and a QB efficiency rating of 158).
So, no way this guy drops out of the first round right?
Three rounds, six quarterbacks and 73 total picks later, Mallett finally came off the board.
There are many alleged reasons for his free fall on draft day, rumors were afloat of drug convictions and run-ins with the law that Mallet was forced to confront in interviews after the NFL combine. Mallett refused to talk about the aforementioned allegations, but according to many reports, was much more candid when interviewed by NFL team representatives. Nonetheless, it was universally agreed upon that these rumors were a causal factor in Mallet falling out of the first round.
Which brings us to why Ryan Mallett could potentially be the steal of the draft. Let's look at five main reasons why Pat's fans should be reveling in having the former Hog on their squad.