What gives with Ryan Mallett?

ESPN.com colleague Elizabeth Merrill went to Texarkana, Texas, recently and spent time with former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and his family and has an excellent story on the enigma Mallett has become in this upcoming NFL draft.

Physically, Mallett is the best pure passer in the draft. Yet, most of the projections have him going somewhere in the second round. There's no question he still has to work on his footwork, and he did throw three costly interceptions in losses last season to Alabama and Ohio State.

But the reason being given for why he's supposedly dropping is off-the-field concerns, which is news to everybody in Arkansas. I was there a couple of weeks ago and spent time with the Hogs' coaches, players and staff members, and they're genuinely perplexed. In their mind, Mallett was never anything but a leader, somebody you could count on and somebody who was driven to be the best.

So they're not buying it.

And while those two interceptions in the second half against Alabama stick out, as does the pick at the end of the game against Ohio State, let's not forget what Mallett meant to the Arkansas program the past two years and what all he accomplished on the field.

For starters, he's only the fourth quarterback in SEC history to pass for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in back-to-back seasons. When the Hogs got hot last season and won those six games in a row to position themselves for their first-ever BCS bowl berth, Mallett was a big reason why.

You're not going to find anybody with a bigger arm than the 6-foot-6 Mallett, who literally can flip the ball 20 yards on a rope. He's obviously not a guy who's going to scramble, but is pretty accurate on the move.

It sounds like the New England Patriots might be interested. James Walker of ESPN.com reported that Mallett was visiting with the Patriots the first part of this week. They have the No. 17 and No. 28 picks in first round and the first pick of the second round, the No. 33 pick overall.

There have been rumors of a drug problem with Mallett, as Merrill cites in her story, but everybody in Arkansas refutes that.

Ultimately, it's all going to play out on the field, and on the field, Mallett has showed that he's a first-round talent.

Now we'll see if somebody in the NFL thinks so.