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Mallett impresses with arm, not speed at pro day

The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett took off out of his stance, pounded out a couple of steps and then abruptly hit the brakes.

His first attempt at the 40-yard dash for NFL representatives during Arkansas' on-campus pro day didn't go well. One Mallett chalked up to a bad start.

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But after getting reset, Mallett fired off again and completed his run.

Asked afterward if he knew his time in the test, Mallett shrugged his shoulders.

"I didn't ask," Mallett said. "I really don't care. I'm not Mike Vick. Everybody knows that."

Mallett, is ranked fifth at quarterback by NFLDraftScout.com more because of questions about his leadership and other off-field concerns. He isn't known to be fleet of foot, and said he was more concerned about his consistency throwing the football as one of 18 former Arkansas players working out in the Walker Indoor Pavilion.

Mallett clocked a 5.37-second time in the 40-yard dash and a broad jump of (8-feet, 7¼ inches). He improved his vertical jump (from 24 to 26 inches) from the combine and also weighed in at 247 pounds, which was below his previous weight of 253.

Of course, scouts weren't here to see Mallett trot and leap; it was expected he'd be where he was athletically relative to the other quarterbacks in this class: near the bottom. As he did at the combine, Mallett drew a crowd and created a buzz with the ball in his hand.

At least 20 teams attended the session and the focus was undoubtedly Mallett. The headliners included Seahawks general manager John Schneider, Bengals QB coach Ken Zampese and Titans QB coach Dowell Loggains. One coach in attendance who asked not to be identified described Mallett as very impressive and said he was easily the most NFL-ready quarterback in the class.

So while much of the NFL scouting community flocked to Auburn to see Cam Newton, one of the fastest quarterbacks in the draft put the ball in the air, Mallett saved his best work for when he dropped back to throw.

Mallett went through the gamut of passes that NFL personnel, including Carolina Panthers quarterback coach Mike Shula, wanted to see. The session included a pair of impressive deep balls that hit receivers London Crawford and Reggie Fish in stride.

Mallett needed a restart in the 40, but he said there wasn't one single throw he wanted back after his workout Tuesday.

"I felt good about them all," Mallett said. "The ball was spinning in our indoor, like going in practice again."

One NFL representative said Mallett's workout was outstanding Tuesday, adding that the passing performance was better than his display at the NFL Combine. It will be noted and repeated that Mallett had a 40 time slower than offensive guard Ray Dominguez. Kicker Alex Tejada had a broad jump of 8-foot-7½. No doubt, Mallett is statuesque in the pocket and his athletic ability and agility are detriments.

But he has arguably the strongest arm in the draft. Whether he can adjust at the NFL level to manage what scouts have termed "happy feet" in the pocket when he senses pressure will be key in evaluations.

One former teammate, tight end D.J. Williams, believes it's a sign NFL teams will make a mistake if they don't draft Mallett in April.

"They'd be stupid to pass up on him," Williams said. "I think he's the best quarterback in the draft hands down with his ability to make that throw that not too many people can make, even people that are playing in the NFL ...

"You can see it the scouts out here. Every time he throws the ball, they're just like, 'There's something about that kid.' They don't know what it is, but he has it."

Of course, Mallett's arm has long been considered his strength. But there have been other questions -- on and off the field -- surrounding him since entering the draft after his junior season.

Mallett, who has faced rumors of drug use, was asked about his interview session with the media in Indianapolis when he declined to delve into the subject. Mallett defended his responses Tuesday. Mallett also added he didn't feel ambushed by the line of questioning because he has faced scrutiny most of his life.

"First of all, I didn't walk out of the media session," Mallett said of Indianapolis. "My mediator said that was the last question and I said, 'Thanks, guys,' and went and worked out. I answered the same question about four times. I don't know what else you want me to say."

Mallett turns his attention to private workouts and interviews with teams leading up to the draft. Mallett said he already has a couple of workouts set up -- he did not disclose the identity of the teams he'll visit -- and plans to remain in Fayetteville for "a little while" with a few teams coming to see him.

"Hopefully I impressed them to where they'll come in and do private workouts," Mallett said.

 TE D.J. Williams opted not to run the 40 during Tuesday's pro day, sitting on his performance from the combine. Williams said his agent told him his aggregate time from the combine was 4.59 seconds. "I've never been a good tester," Williams said. "I just feel like I've been a good football player, so I was happy with the numbers I put up."

 OLs DeMarcus Love and Ray Dominguez played offensive tackle for Arkansas. But both said after Tuesday's workout they're prepared for life at offensive guard in the NFL. Dominguez knew going into the draft process his best chance in the NFL is at guard. Love said teams continue to evaluate him at both positions, although he reportedly struggled at tackle during the Senior Bowl and combine. "Whatever position I end up playing I'm going to play," Love said.

  CB Ramon Broadway, who suffered a dislocated ankle late in the season, said he was at roughly 90 percent for Tuesday's pro day. Broadway, whose 40 time was clocked at 4.47 seconds, said he is undergoing surgery this week to remove pins in his ankle.

Robbie Neiswanger covers the Razorbacks for the Arkansas News Bureau


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