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Ryan Mallett: Will He Get Chance to Replace Tom Brady for New England Patriots?

Michael PintoSenior Writer IApril 30, 2011

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 04:  Quarterback Ryan Mallett #15 of the Arkansas Razorbacks looks to pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome on January 4, 2011 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Ryan Mallett watched as the first two-and-half rounds of the 2011 NFL draft passed him by. Six quarterbacks came off the board ahead of him and the further we went along the further our memories strayed from the talk of Mallett being the No. 1 overall pick. 

That was way back in September. Before Mallett went under the microscope and character concerns and unsubstantiated drug rumors circled above him like vultures. 

But maybe it was all for the best.

Maybe Mallett's slide put him in exactly the position he needed to be. Behind New England's Tom Brady.

There was talk that more than anything, more than the rumored drug use and maturity issues, Mallett simply wasn't a leader. At all.

At any other position it's something you can overlook. But at the most important position, where the offense begins and ends, leadership is at the foundation.

It's possible that single concern more than anything was at the heart of Mallett's decent down draft boards. From one of the top graded quarterbacks just a few short months ago to a third round pick, Mallett might just be the luckiest passer in the class.

Not when you put it in dollars and cents - it'll take him years to make up the difference - but there really isn't a better situation for a young quarterback to be in.

There's two schools of thought for developing quarterbacks. Feed them to the wolves or let them take baby steps, slowly but surely.

Both methods can produce success. Peyton Manning stepped in on day one and started for Indianapolis. The road was bumpy at first, but the next step for Manning is the Hall of Fame.

Aaron Rodgers waited three years behind Brett Favre in Green Bay.

Both quarterbacks have Superbowl rings.

Mallett will fall into the latter category. Brady turns 34 in August, but anyone who thinks he doesn't have two, three or possibly more years left in him at an All-Pro level needs to think again.

But who else could serve as a better mentor for a young quarterback filled with talent and question marks?

Could you think of anyone better than Bill Belichick to harness the good Mallett has and shed the concerns that made every other team in the NFL shy away?

There's no denying Mallett's physical ability. He's got arguably the best arm of any quarterback in the draft and can make all the throws. At a massive 6'7" and 253 lbs he's got ideal size. He has relatively no mobility, but unlike a lack of leadership skills that's something you can work with.

As for leadership, that will come in time.

Once he watches the way Brady commands the offense, waits in the wings under the watchful eye of Belichick, Mallett will learn.

So the question isn't whether Mallett will ever get the chance to be New England's starting quarterback.

The question is when.   

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