By Danny Picard
FOXBORO -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; The Patriots ended their second day of drafting by selectingthe most criticized quarterback in the entire class, Ryan Mallett.
Nobodys questioning the skill of the 6-foot-6, 238-poundpocket passer from the University of Arkansas. Its his off-the-field issuesthat presumably had him falling out of the first two rounds, only to be takenin the third round 74th overall by the Patriots.
That cloud hanging over Malletts head had all to do withthe criticisms he faced about alleged drug use. And he responded to questionsabout those criticisms, in a conference call on Friday night, after receiving acall from New England, telling him he was about to become a Patriot.
When I got that call, it was a great feeling, just to knowthat somebody wanted me, said Mallett. Its been a long road to get here.
Mallett described the drug allegations as just peopletalking and something that hes put behind him.
Mislabeled, if thats what you want to call it, fine, saidMallett. I think I was portrayed in a different light, than the people thatknow me and know who I am.
I dont think that stuffs a problem. I think theres beena lot of stuff said thats definitely been false. But Im looking to thefuture, and looking to be a Patriot.
Mallett said he was definitely surprised to get drafted byNew England, but he always thought it would be a great fit, especially afterhis visit to New England last week.
I know Toms a great player, said Mallett. Theopportunity for me to learn from him, and further my knowledge with thatcoaching staff, is something that I was very excited about, when I got thecall. I cant wait to get started.
Mallett said he loved his trip to New England, because heimmediately drew a connection with Bill Belichick.
I love the coaches there, said Mallett. The staff is agreat staff. Obviously they have great players. Im looking forward to havingan opportunity to play for the greatest organization in the NFL right now.
It was like talking to an old coach. Im a coachs son, soIve been around coaches, and coach Belichicks a great guy. He loves hisplayers, and he loves the game. Thats something that, when youre acompetitor, thats what you want.
I felt like I had a great connection with him, and I guesshe did too.
Now, Mallett will have a chance to learn from Tom Brady. Forsure, it will be an adjustment for him to go from starter to backup, he planson preparing himself every week as a starter, because you never know when youllbe called upon.
As a competitor, I want to play, but this gives me anadvantage to prolong my career by playing behind Tom and learning all thelittle dinks and dunks from him, said Mallett.
Heading into the draft, the only name any football analystcompared Mallett to was former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. But afterFriday nights conference call with New Englands newest quarterback, Mallettbelieves he should have been compared to Brady.
I think its a perfect fit, after watching film with thecoaches while I was there, said Mallett. And me and Tom Brady are kind ofthe same. I mean, were not fleet of foot. Obviously we dont run fast. We pickdefenses apart, and we know whats going to happen before the snap, or we reactpost-snap, and thats why I feel like Im like him a lot.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.