The surprise of the third round of the 2011 NFL draft -- perhaps even the draft itself -- is the New England Patriots spending the 74th overall pick on Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett. The Patriots did bring him into New England for a visit but I remember at the time thinking it was just Bill Belichick's getting a better grasp of the various prospects -- not that he actually wanted to draft Mallett.
So it's a surprising pick, no doubt about that. SB Nation's Pats Pulpit says you need a little time before judging Mallett, who was characterized before the draft as "arrogant" and rumored to have tested positive for drugs.
Everyone close to Mallett says that he's a great person. Transfers aren't always nominated team captain, yet Mallett was a team captain in both '09 and '10. Mallett was praised for his leadership by his teammates. His coaches talk about his hard work and passion. Those that know him on a football level talk about how impressed they are with his football intelligence and motivation. Mallett's well liked by those that know him. Maybe we should take the opportunity to know him as a Patriot before we pass our judgment.
I am surprised by the pick but, the more I think about it, the more I think this is such a Patriot-type pick. He's been undervalued because of off the field problems but still loves football. He has great potential because of his physical skills yet many don't want to give him a chance.
The Patriots may have found a steal here. QB Tom Brady isn't going anywhere for a while so Mallett has some time to sit back and understand the NFL game from one of the best quarterbacks in history.
Check out Pats Pulpit to see what Pats fans are saying about the pick.