Mallett admitted drug use at scouting combine

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) is chased from the pocket by Ohio State defensive lineman Cameron Hayward (97) during first half action of the 77th Annual Allstate Sugar Bowl at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana January 4, 2011. UPI/A.J. Sisco

In his column about character assessments, Nolan Nawrocki of Pro Football Weekly writes that Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett confirmed to NFL teams during the scouting combine that he at least experimented with drugs during his college years.

Arkansas QB Ryan Mallett — One GM said Mallett was the first quarterback ever to admit his drug usage to him in interviews, and his willingness to be honest about his past and acknowledge issues is viewed as a positive. Concerns about his history of use could impact his draft position, though. Although Mallett did not produce an official positive test at Arkansas, he has been arrested for public intoxication and carries a reputation as a “big party guy,” per sources who have interviewed him. How much teams believe he has matured will weigh into his draft status. “I would not take him at any point,” one executive not in need of a quarterback said. He still figures to be drafted in the second round.

If I were an NFL draft evaluator I would be more concerned about his work habits than his drug use. Just because a player experimented with drugs in college doesn’t mean he’s going to be a loose cannon in the NFL. Granted, giving him millions of dollars and more free time usually only fuels young players’ appetites for partying but again, that doesn’t mean they’ll be a malcontent in the NFL. I would be more concerned if Mallett was lazy, failed to show up to meetings and practice on time, or if he generally couldn’t grasp a playbook.

That said, I don’t blame any team for wanting to stay away from him. You invest that much money in a player, he better eat, sleep and drink football until his career is finished or else why draft him? There’s a reason why a guy like Peyton Manning is viewed as the best: because he’s willing to work at the game he loves. If teams get the sense that Mallett is the second coming of Ryan Leaf, then why bother even having him on their draft board?

If Mallett does wind up falling into the second round, one team I’d keep an eye on is Oakland. The Raiders run a vertical offense with Hue Jackson at the helm and Al Davis doesn’t give a squat about whether or not a prospect has questionable character. Granted, quarterback isn’t necessarily a need for the Raiders but Davis has always been a guy who is attracted to big-time talent.

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