Has Bill Belichick once again pulled the hoody over the eyes of the rest of the National Football League?
By taking enigmatic quarterback Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett with the 74th overall pick on Friday night at the 2011 NFL draft at Radio City Music Hall, Belichick and the New England Patriots immediately opened themselves up to a flurry of questions.
Why take the risk with a kid who some NFL types claim has character issues, including being a so-called party guy?
Is it worth taking a shot on a prospect that has encountered run-ins with the law before?
How will he fit in with the Patriots clean-cut image?
To those who doubt the Patriots can straighten out Mallett, let’s look back at their team history.
In 2004, they acquired ex-Cincinnati Bengals running back Corey Dillion, who had his own resume of past legal issues. Under Belichick, he helped the Pats win the Super Bowl that very season.
In 2007, the Pats took a shot at wideout Randy Moss, whose laundry list of problems is too long to list here. With Moss in the fold, the Pats went 16-0 during the regular season.
On Friday, New England used one of the picks acquired from the Minnesota Vikings for Moss last season to take Mallett.
Kind of ironic, isn’t it?
From a pure football point of view, Mallett is considered by many scouts to have the strongest arm among all the top quarterback prospects. In the end, he dropped way down because he has first-round talent but is considered to have middle round character.
Now he is playing with Tom Brady under Belichick.
Don’t be surprised if Belichick gets the last laugh here.
ON SECOND THOUGHT
Unless they have plans to bring in a Donovan McNabb, or Carson Palmer or trade for Kevin Kolb, the Bills are making a mistake if their plan is to wait until next year to snap up a young quarterback. There is no guarantee that guys who are highly ranked this year won’t regress in the next 12 months. Example No.1: Jake Locker. Had Locker come out a year ago, many predicted he would have been the top selection in the 2010 draft ahead of Sam Bradford. Instead, he decided to stay at Washington and had a mediocre season. Many were surprised when he went as high as he did ‹ eighth to the Tennessee Titans. Two quarterbacks ‹ Andy Dalton (Bengals) and Colin Kaepernick (49ers) ‹ were plucked right after the Bills passed over both with the 34th pick to take Texas corner Aaron Williams. A defensive back?
How many TDs did he toss last year? Sorry, Bills fans. Time to put on those Jim Kelly highlight reels again Š Had to laugh at those who, entering the second round, thought the Dallas Cowboys should go for running back Ryan Williams of Virginia Tech. Forget, for a moment, that Williams was taken by the Arizona Cardinals before the Cowboys’ pick came up. That’s not the point. What is the point, is the fact that the ’Boys have far more pressing concerns than running back, where they already have Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. The Cowboys did end up taking running back DeMarco Murray of Oklahoma in the third round. Does that mean Barber is toast?
In a cool twist to the draft, 32 NFL alumni from each of the NFL teams were on hand to announce the selections in the second round, including famed names of the past such as Andre Reed, Dwight Clark and Paul Warfield. The loudest ovation, however, was saved for Detroit Lions’ Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, who sparked a wild, ear-shattering cheer from the capacity crowd at Radio City Music Hall. Asked which running back he liked in the modern game, Sanders picked Jacksonville Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew,
partially because both were effective small men playing a big man’s game.
OH, DANNY BOY
Finally, how neat was it for Don Cherry on Thursday night to give the thumbs up to Kelowna, B.C.’s Danny Watkins for being drafted 23rd overall by the Philadelphia Eagles? Watkins, an offensive lineman and former volunteer fireman, is a big Grapes fan, having grown up watching him on Saturday nights.