New England Patriots: Revisiting and Grading the Draft: 2011

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Nov 23, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) signals at the line of scrimmage against the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

3rd Round #74 overall: quarterback Ryan Mallett

New England surprised many draft analysts in 2011 when they tabbed strong-armed Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett with the 74th overall pick. At six-foot-six and 240 pounds, Mallett was not to be confused with Colin Kaepernick. New England was looking for a young quarterback to back-up Tom Brady and Mallett was too talented to pass up.


For three seasons in New England Mallett attempted just four passes. For the Patriots, it meant that Brady was not injured and Mallett was not needed to step in. With the drafting of Jimmy Garoppolo in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Mallett became expendable and was shipped to Houston for a 2016 seventh round draft pick. Mallet will now compete with the back-up he replaced in New England–Brian Hoyer–for the starting quarterback job in 2015.


Mallett was affected in the 2011 NFL Draft by the always interesting “off-field issues”. What was strange was that there were rumors but nothing specific caused his drop. With the Titans, Jaguars, and Vikings all striking out with Jake Locker, Blaine Gabbert, and Christian Ponder and the jury still out on Andy Dalton and his playoff failures, Mallett could still theoretically emerge as the third best quarterback of the draft behind number one overall pick Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick.


Jan 11, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (80) against the Indianapolis Colts in the 2014 AFC Divisional playoff football game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. The Colts defeated the Broncos 24-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports


New England values the back-up quarterback position for two distinct reasons: 1) 2008 and quarterback Matt Cassel stepping in and winning 11 games with Tom Brady out for the year; and 2) the 2011 Indianapolis Colts who went 2-14 without Peyton Manning and suffered through Dan Orlovsky, Kerry Collins (age 39), and Curtis Painter at quarterback. The Patriots will neither overpay for a back-up quarterback nor leave themselves without a competent fill-in.


The remaining quarterbacks in the draft were nothing to get excited about. Ricky Stanzi, T.J. Yates, Nathan Enderle, Tyrod Taylor, and Greg McElroy are never going to be confused with Newton and Kaepernick. The drop off in talent was precipitous after Ridley and Mallett with the occasional hit (Julius Thomas at #129 overall) or trying to wring talent out of wide receiver Greg Salas (#112 overall) or a steady role player like linebacker Mason Foster (#84 overall to Tampa Bay).



New England got what they wanted out of the pick of Mallett. The fact that he did not get an opportunity to play was a good thing. Overall, he filled his role. A solid “C” in the third round.


Next: 5th Round