Perhaps no move in this past weekend's NFL Draft was more scrutinized than the third-round selection of Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett.
Going into the draft, quarterback was not seen as one of this Patriot team's many needs. The Pats are more set at that position than any other team in the league, and Tom Brady has repeatedly expressed his hope to play 10 more years.
Mallett, meanwhile, has been under fire from the media, as rumors of drug use circulated. On draft day, teams shied away from a player some believed could be Ryan Leaf part two.
It was thus that the Patriots found themselves in the position to pick up Mallett in the third round.
Though some may disagree with the decision, it was a smart selection for the following reasons:
- Value. Regardless of how some teams may evaluate his character, Mallett is indisputably talented. Some have rated him as the best passer in this draft, and he possesses a strong arm along the lines of Jay Cutler or Drew Bledsoe. To pick up such a prospect in the third round is a steal.
- Low risk. Even if Mallett busts, the price of a third round pick is not high. The Patriots can afford to take a risk here, as the reward (a potential franchise quarterback) is priceless in the NFL.
- Depth. Believe it or not, Brady is human. He can be injured. Although backup Brian Hoyer has performed well in garbage time, it has yet to be seen if he could handle an extended starting stint (such as the one, say, Matt Cassel faced). Having Mallett in the wings will be extremely useful to the team in future years.
- The future. Although Brady has said he wants to play for 10 more years, it's unlikely he'll still be in the league at 43 years old. Great quarterbacks often leave gaping holes at the position from which it is hard to recover (Miami has yet to rebound after Dan Marino's retirement). The Patriots need a plan in place for Brady's eventual retirement.
- Trade value. Even should Brady follow through with his promise to play an additional decade, Mallett can still have value to the franchise. In a league where starting quarterbacks are a rare commodity, teams are willing to spend high draft picks on proven talent. Should Mallett show promise in the preseason and mop-up duty, he could command a king's ransom from a team unwilling to invest in a rookie.
In short, although the Patriots could have addressed other positions (like outside linebacker), the Mallett acquisition represents a low price for a high potential reward.