Archive: Getting to know Ryan Mallett

ESPN.com senior writer Elizabeth Merrill wrote an extensive profile of new Patriots quarterback Ryan Mallett in the weeks leading up to the draft, detailing his childhood, exploring why he has the reputation of being immature and cocky and trying to get at what makes him tick.

It's a must-read for any Patriots fan just getting to know the quarterback.

Here's an excerpt:

There are a hundred theories about why Ryan Mallett is possibly the biggest wild card in this crapshoot of a draft, and Jim has a few conspiracy theories of his own that he'll refrain from elaborating on. Physically, Mallett has it all: a 6-foot-7 frame, a cannon of an arm and 7,493 passing yards in a pro-style offense at Arkansas. The mental part is where this gets twisted. Some analysts say he has character issues, which, for a quarterback, sits like a giant black mark covering a three-page résumé.

In the three months since he decided to forgo his senior season at Arkansas, Mallett has been called everything from immature to cocky to a bad leader. Rumors about drugs have swirled on sports talk radio and the Internet. Folks in Arkansas don't get it. The only known blemish on Mallett's record comes from 2009, when, at the age of 20, he was arrested for public intoxication outside a nightspot near campus in Fayetteville. But the criticism and innuendo continue, and Team Mallett can't figure out why. Ryan's grandma cries when she hears the kid's name sullied on TV.

Mallett denies all of it, except the public intoxication, and says he's finished fighting. He says he doesn't care what anyone outside of the decision-makers in the NFL think of him.

"Turn it off, Daddy," he calmly tells Jim when the elder Mallett is ready to throw something at the television. People are going to say what they say and write what they write, Ryan says. He just wants to play football, anywhere, but preferably after a high-round pick.

But will those questions cost him millions?

"People keep bringing up these alleged off-the-field issues," Jim says. "There are no off-the-field issues. If there are, they need to tell us about it, because apparently Mom and Dad don't know about it.

"It's just wrong. And none of it's true."