Ryan Mallett has some competition at the backup QB spot now. (USA Today Sports Images)
NEPD Staff Writer: Oliver Thomas
There’s a No. 15 slinging spirals in a New England Patriots practice jersey, and his name is not Tim Tebow.
It’s Ryan Mallett.
An Arkansas Razorback by way of the Michigan Wolverines, Mallett was a Patriots third-round pick back in 2011. Selected 74th overall, the Razorback was New England’s highest quarterback draft investment since Drew Bledsoe in 1993. And according to then-NFL Network analyst and current Cleveland Browns general manager Michael Lombardi, the 6’6”, 245-pounder was ranked atop the team’s QB board that April.
Many saw “Big Tex” as a possible heir to Tom Brady’s throne. He too spent time under Lloyd Carr during his short time in Ann Arbor, and he too fit the prototype of a drop-back pocket negotiator.
But as we know, comparisons and expectations are the shingles on the roof of prospect disappointment. Mallett had to learn to be an NFL passer before he could become an NFL passer.
As a rookie in 2011, Mallett held a clipboard as the third-string quarterback behind Brian Hoyer. Yet in 2012, he flashed enough to convince Bill Belichick he could be second-in-command. Hoyer was subsequently released, and New England opted to go just two-deep at the game’s most pivotal position. Belichick showed trust in a second-year player who hadn’t played a professional snap under center.
Mallett went on to make appearances in four games as the lone understudy last year. He took eight kneel-downs for a loss of nine yards, finishing the campaign with just one completion for 17 yards on four pass attempts. He also threw one interception.
With a very small sample size to choose from, the jury is still out on Mallett. He may develop into a starting-caliber field general. But will Foxboro ever be the venue for him to do so?
In late February, Brady signed an extension through the 2017 season, and in turn, that possibility became more of a pipedream for Mallett. After all, the 25-year-old would be 30 and on his second NFL contract by the time that plan were to come to fruition.
So what does 2013 mean for Mallett?