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Mallett rallies and impresses after interview fumble

by | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

INDIANAPOLIS -- Despite a Saturday afternoon media session in which some felt that quarterback Ryan Mallett was caustic and evasive when questioned about the drug allegations surrounding him, most league franchises that subjected the former Arkansas star to a closed door interview came away impressed with him.

Three teams that met with Mallett at the combine said they had no problems with his responses to the drug allegations or with his demeanor.

"The guy looked us right in the eyes and didn't dodge anything at all," said a high-ranking executive from an NFC team that is considering its quarterback options in the 2011 draft. "If we don't take him, it certainly won't be a reflection of his time with us (in the interview)."

Mallett was arguably the most impressive prospect throwing the ball during the Sunday on-field session for quarterbacks. He exhibited the strong arm most scouts expected of him and was very accurate as well. More accurate, notably, than former Auburn star and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, clearly the most celebrated player among the 330 prospects invited to Indianapolis last week.

The physical difference wasn't the lone disparity between the players, said an assistant coach from an AFC club that might be interested in choosing a quarterback in the draft in two months.

"(Mallett) wasn't as self-absorbed as the other guy," the official said. "We really had no problem with him. He was pretty (straightforward), and he was very good, too, at (diagramming plays) on the chalkboard."

He has first-round talent -- Mallett told media he can throw the ball 80 yards, and his 6-foot-6, 253-pound frame makes him ideal for a team seeking a pocket passer -- but leadership questions existed before recent reports of his alleged drug use. Based on NFLDraftScout.com's current projections, Mallett could be in a battle with Washington's Jake Locker and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick to follow Newton and Missouri junior Blaine Gabbert off the board in April's draft.

None of the clubs queried chose to comment on the drug allegations and the manner in which Mallett fared in his media session.

Although Newton was met with mixed reviews for his appearance with the media on Saturday, the former Auburn star received generally favorable comments for his 11-minute session. Mallett, on the other hand, was mostly panned for his handling of the media.


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