I believe we're going to look back on this draft in five years and think one of the most compelling stories was Ryan Mallett. Think of it. In a year when there's a major premium on rookies being NFL-ready (with the lockout obviously preventing rookies from training to play right away), the most NFL-ready quarterback in the draft was picked 74th -- 37 slots behind the last of six quarterbacks chosen in the first and second rounds. That isn't to say he's going to be a great pro. Who knows if he will be? But the value at 74 for a player of his stature is pretty hard to ignore.
A couple of my peers had excellent observations/stories about Mallett that I wanted to point out.
Aaron Schatz of FootballOutsiders.com made this point: With the increased emphasis on concussion awareness, imagine if Tom Brady gets one in the next two or three years and has to sit out a week. I'd feel better having a trained Ryan Mallett on my bench competing with Brian Hoyer to play rather than just Hoyer.
"The backup quarterback position becomes more important as the NFL enforces stronger concussion guidelines,'' Schatz says. "There's a much higher chance now that a team is going to have to start the backup quarterback for one or two games in the middle of the season, like what happened to Green Bay when they had to start Matt Flynn against New England last year. So Ryan Mallett doesn't just have value as a player the Patriots can develop and possibly spin off for a first-round draft pick three years from now. He also has value because he gives the Patriots a stronger backup quarterback in case Brady takes an unfortunate hard hit at midseason.''
Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald went to Texas and Arkansas (Mallett is from Texarkana, Texas, and played collegiately at Arkansas) to look into Mallett and found a couple of interesting points.
One: His offense at Arkansas has much in common with what the Patriots will run in New England -- thanks to college coach Bobby Petrino. "I grew up in Jacksonville with Tom Coughlin," Petrino told Rapoport, "which ties back to [Bill] Parcells. Like, I heard [Tom] Brady call the play on TV: '136 Dual Y Choice.' That's the exact same way we would call that play. So, there's certain things that are going to be real easy carry-over, because of the system we use. And he had responsibilities in protections, which obviously in the NFL, you have to do. We did protections very similar to the way he'll do it there."
Two: He got coached hard by Petrino, and he'll get coached hard by the Patriots. "I don't think he'll be shocked at how he has to prepare,'' Petrino said.
Postscript to the Eagles-Patriots trade: Andy Reid and Bill Belichick had that weird trade on draft day, New England trading the 193rd overall choice to Philly for pick number 194. They did it, Reid said, to keep a long streak alive of consecutive years of trades between the two teams. Well, it's a good story, and it seemed the two teams were always trading ... but it's not true.
Since 2000 -- according to the Patriots -- the two teams have made two draft-day trades: the one this year, and one in 2009, when the Patriots shipped Ellis Hobbs to Philadelphia for two fifth-round picks. There have been two other trades involving picks: The Pats shipped a fifth-rounder to the Eagles for Greg Lewis and a seventh-rounder in 2009; and the Patriots sent a sixth-rounder to Philly for Tracy White and a seventh-rounder in 2010. That's it.
Godspeed, David White.
I met the veteran San Francisco Chronicle football beat writer, who covered the Niners and Raiders at different points, at the San Francisco draft last weekend. It was the last football assignment for White, who now is on a God assignment. He is leaving the Chronicle to become the senior pastor at the Porterville (Calif.) Church of God.
White wrote a poignant final column for the paper Sunday that I wanted to take note of, because it has so many good points for those he leaves behind, both on the field and in the press box. Whether you're an atheist or a believer in a higher being, take a minute to read his column, particularly these bullet points about religion and sports, starting with the coach he formerly covered for the 49ers, Mike Singletary:
"Thou shalt not wear a cross around your neck if you're going to verbally wring the neck of third-string quarterbacks and local sports anchors in full public view. The Scripture says to take up your cross, not nail everyone else to one. Represent or tuck it in.
"When thou tear an ACL, don't say it's because God lets everything happen for a reason. There is a reason. A 320-pound defensive tackle landed on the back of your knee.
"Thou shalt not thank God when only you win, and never when you lose. What, is it his fault that fourth-and-inches call was a few yards off? Did he fumble away the game-winning interception? The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.
"Thou shalt absolutely not say your team won because it was God's plan. What does the Lord have against the other team? And why should God even care in a world of suffering how our games play out? Maybe you think He doubled down on your end of the Vegas line? He didn't.''
... And Mike McGuire checks in from Afghanistan, with some bin Laden meaning.
This email came to me from our favorite Army sergeant, with his thoughts about the demise of Osama bin Laden. It's one of the best emails he's even sent.
"Bin Laden dead brings closure to a situation that started it all. More than anything it makes me miss the Soldiers I have lost over the past three deployments: SGT Bevington, SPC Connelly, SGT McHale and others. That is not to exclude my guys that lost their legs, lost eyes, and to top it off all the mental issues they have now. These young soldiers will never be the same person again. They are changed. There is an attitude about them that most will not get, a sadness they carry every day, just like me.
"We take pride in what we do. Every soldier who puts on a uniform is my brother. I would not trade much of what has happened over the last six years except bring back my men. The war has changed me. I am short-tempered, I curse more now, I can eat dinner in under three minutes. More than anything, I am ashamed of the fact that I missed my kids growing up, my son getting commissioned in the Army, my daughter getting married, my other daughter graduating, and many other issues.
"But I am alive. I am going to make the best of it and make up for all this lost time. This is my last deployment. I am focusing on my men and women to give them all the tools to survive over here. But also I am counting the days until retirement.
"Just rambling. Sorry. Take care,
Ramble anytime, Mike.
I'd like to ask all of you who want to write to Sergeant McGuire to send them along to me, and this week I'll write a few of them in my column and forward the rest to him. I know he always appreciates your support.
Charities of the Week.
I've had a few requests to spread news about some very good works, and I am glad to do so.
The Red Sox are doing a great thing for the military with their 2011 Run To Home Base 9K on May 22, a 9K (5.6 miles) race through Boston that ends inside Fenway Park and benefits the veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat stress or traumatic brain injuries. The second-annual race is limited to 2,500 runners, and because running requires a fundraising commitment, those who want to enter need to get cracking now. The Run to Home Base program has helped many veterans, including a 30-year-old Boston-area resident, Eric Emond, who, remarkably, served five tours in the Persian Gulf and was seriously wounded as a member of the U.S. Army's Special Forces in Afghanistan. It's an excellent cause, if you can get involved.
Sports Illustrated and the American Red Cross are combining to run an online auction to benefit tornado victims through the South. There's a lunch with me (wow!), some great Neil Leifer photos and other fun stuff to be auctioned. Go here for information.
The Matt Light Foundation has a one-of-a-kind item to auction off -- autographed Pro Bowl jerseys of three of the named plaintiffs in the suit against the NFL, along with the front page of the players' suit. (Hey lawyers: Just think about what a conversation-starter this would be in your conference rooms.) Even if you just wanted the three jerseys -- signed by Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Peyton Manning -- that'd be worth a good sum. The three jerseys and the document are framed together. For info, contact Margrette Mondillo at firstname.lastname@example.org
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