Agents, Panthers denying reports that Mallett skipped meeting

University of Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett (15) scrambles away from the University of Florida’s Christopher Coleman during the secopnd quarter of their NCAA football game in Gainesville, Florida October 17, 2009. REUTERS/Scott Audette (UNITED STATES SPORT FOOTBALL)

NBC Sports is reporting that the agents for Ryan Mallett are disputing the claim that their client skipped a scheduled meeting with the Panthers on April 9 after a “long night out” on April 8. The Panthers have also joined Mallett’s agents in denying the report.

“There is absolutely no truth to the unfounded and irresponsible report that Ryan skipped his visit with the Carolina Panthers on April 9 because he was too sick after a late night out on the town the previous night. Rather, Ryan had dinner with club officials from the Panthers on the evening of April 8 and then returned to his hotel that evening along with Julio Jones. Ryan and Julio were together the entire time that evening until Ryan and Julio turned in for the night around 10:00 — 10:30 pm.

“Upon returning to his hotel room, Ryan became ill and was up most of the night and into the morning with flu-like symptoms. Keep in mind that this was Ryan’s fourth team visit in the previous week and that Ryan had crisscrossed the country with stops in Cincinnati, Fayetteville, Seattle, Fayetteville again and Minneapolis before Charlotte. Nevertheless, Ryan met with Panthers representatives on the morning of April 9 as scheduled and informed the club at that time that he was extremely sick. Carolina officials decided to send Ryan back to his hotel room for some medicine and additional rest in hopes that they could meet with Ryan later that morning. Ryan did as instructed and contacted Panther officials later that morning to resume his meetings with club officials. However, given that Ryan was still sick, Carolina officials decided to cancel the remainder of Ryan’s visit with the team.”

The Panthers have corroborated that version of the events, in an e-mail to PFT: “Ryan Mallett came for a visit to Charlotte two weeks ago. He had dinner with our coaches the evening he arrived and came down from his hotel room for a scheduled breakfast meeting the following morning upon which time he informed a staff member that he had been sick all night with nausea. We told Ryan that if he was ill to remain in his room as long as the nausea existed. We took him to the airport later that afternoon for his scheduled flight.”

Interesting. So you have the National Football Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Charlotte Observer all claiming that Mallett skipped the meeting because he was out late the night before, while Mallett’s agents and the Panthers themselves claiming that he truly was sick.

If I’m picking sides here, I’m siding with the Panthers, even though they have nothing to gain by tarnishing Mallett’s image a week before the draft. They’re not going to take him and on the outside chance that he falls into the second round and some team wants to trade up to acquire him, Carolina may be able to make a deal. Even the report was true and he wasn’t sick, the Panthers aren’t going to badmouth him now. There would be no reason to.

Still, I choose to believe (for now) that Mallett was a victim of bad reporting. While I enjoy their content, The National Football Post has developed into a highly unreliable site when it comes to reports like these. Granted, the Chicago Tribune and Charlotte Observer are reliable, but maybe they too got bad information on this story.

Either way, there are still concerns surrounding Mallett’s character. I stand by what I wrote on Tuesday in that teams may regret passing on him next week because from a physical standpoint, he’s a great talent and I don’t mind that he’s a little cocky/arrogant. But as I pointed out yesterday, some GM might be saying to himself, “Why bother?” given all of the contradicting reports that have surrounded this kid the past three months.

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Did Ryan Mallett miss visit with Panthers after late night out?

As usual, my timing couldn’t be worse when it comes to predictions, projections or flat out just sharing my opinions on certain players or teams.

One day after I wrote this sparkling piece about how teams may regret passing on Ryan Mallett in next week’s draft, the National Football Post is reporting that the former Arkansas QB skipped his team visit with the Panthers earlier this month after “a late night on the town.”

Mallett apparently met Carolina officials for dinner on April 8, which was the first day he arrived in Charlotte. The bulk of his visit was scheduled for April 9, but he apparently called the Panthers that day and said he was sick, even though sources claim he was seen out on the town late the night before. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune and Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer both confirm the Post’s report.

This news does nothing to quell the concerns that Mallett has major character flaws. He was arrested for public intoxication in March of 2009, has admitted to at least experimenting with drugs in college, was perceived as arrogant when talking to the media at the scouting combine in February (when asked about his alleged drug use), and now apparently skipped a visit with a National Football Team. Even though he’s a prototypical pocket passer with great size and a cannon for a right arm, there’s a good chance he’ll fall out of the first round. And if he does, I hope all of the partying he has reportedly been doing was worth it because it’ll wind up costing him millions in the pros.

I’m going to contradict what I wrote yesterday, which I feel inclined to do after reading this report. But if you’re a NFL GM, why even bother with this kid? You can’t baby sit your franchise quarterback because he likes to do drugs and party. Granted, Brett Favre was a wild-child in Atlanta before being traded to Green Bay, so players can change. But again, why even bother? Let someone else deal with him and once he gets cut from his first NFL team, scoop him up when he’s matured and humbled.

Teams may regret passing on Ryan Mallett

When he speaks to the media, I can see why he rubs people the wrong way.

When the rumors about his drug use in college are brought up, I can see why some draft evaluators say that they “wouldn’t touch him” if they were a NFL GM.

But when I look at Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett, I see a quarterback prospect that could potentially make a lot of teams regret passing on him in next week’s draft.

Here’s what we know about him on the field: He has a cannon attached to his right shoulder and is a prototypical pocket passer, which is something that usually makes pro scouts drool over. At times, he has been known to struggle with his accuracy and ball placement, but when his pocket is good he will set his feet properly by getting into a wide base and will square up his target. Michael Vick he’s not, but he doesn’t have to be either.

Here’s what we know about him off the field: He admitted to at least experimenting with drugs in college and according to one GM, Mallett was also the first quarterback ever to admit his drug usage to him during interviews. After the way he spoke to the media at the scouting combine, there are many observers who think he’s brash, cocky and arrogant. In fact, some have even gone as far as to say that he’s the next Ryan Leaf.

Here’s what we don’t know: We don’t know what his behavior will be like once he’s a millionaire. We don’t know if his “experimenting” with drugs in college is actually a real issue and whether or not it’s actually a habit that he needs to kick. We don’t know how he’ll respond to the media on a daily basis or whether or not he can become the first quarterback who played under Bobby Petrino to succeed in the NFL. We may think we know these things, but we don’t.

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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.

The comparisons to Ryan Leaf continue to mount for Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett certainly looks the part of a NFL quarterback. He stands 6’6 and 238 pounds, has a cannon for a right arm and is the pocket passer that teams covet. One would think that he would have plenty of success in a vertical offense once he got familiar with the playbook and the complexities of the pro game.

But the more that’s released on Mallett leading up to the draft, the less there is to like. He stood at the podium on Saturday at the NFL scouting combine and instead of extinguishing the idea that he has questionable character, he only ignited the suspicion.

According to, Mallett refused to discuss the rumors that he’s an alleged drug addict.

Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was on the podium for about eight seconds when a reporter asked him about foggy allegations regarding illegal drug use.

“First one, huh?” Mallett replied Saturday afternoon at the NFL scouting combine.

He forced a smile.

“Nah, I’m not going to talk about that right now,” Mallett said. “I’ve got interviews with the teams, and the teams need to know what they need to know, and I’m going to leave it at that.”

Mallett hinted at ulterior motives for the rumors.

“Obviously, somebody did it for a reason,” Mallett said, “right before the combine, right before the draft.”

Mallett insisted innuendo “doesn’t bother me” and “when I saw that stuff, I laughed about it.”

But Mallett declined to address any issues directly or make any denials.

According to Sporting, a reporter told Mallett the rumors would not go away if he did not answer the questions and at that point, Mallett said, “Thanks,” and walked away from the podium.

Granted, being able to speak to the media doesn’t have anything to do with a quarterback’s ability to read a defense, throw a perfectly timed pass to beat a blitz or lead a team in the fourth quarter. But Mallett appears to be rubbing people the wrong way. The fact that he’s taken a hardened stance with the media isn’t really the issue, nor is his confidence. (To a certain degree, quarterbacks have to play with arrogance because of how much is expected of them.)

The issue is that this is the time of year when Mallett has to sell himself and all people want to do is compare him to Ryan Leaf. That alone should make Mallett strive to act like Ghandi for the next two months.

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