published Saturday, April 30th, 2011

Mallett, Houston finally drafted in third round

The second round of the 2011 National Football League draft was more about who wasn’t selected.

Former Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett and former Georgia outside linebacker Justin Houston were solid first-round projections in January but slipped all the way into the third round Friday night. Mallett was picked 74th overall by the New England Patriots, where he can learn from three-time Super Bowl championship quarterback Tom Brady, soon after Houston went 70th to the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Ryan Mallett is not going to be heard from for a while,” ESPN analyst Mel Kiper said. “He’ll be in the preseason games, but this is a great situation for him. It’s like the old days. This is the way you should develop a quarterback, like Green Bay did with Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was there.

“Aaron Rodgers was in his fourth year when he finally started a game, and Ryan Mallett is going to be in a similar scenario.”

The first three rounds have come and gone without Tennessee tight end Luke Stocker or University of Tennessee at Chattanooga cornerback Buster Skrine getting picked. In fact, no player who competed at a Volunteer State college has been chosen so far.

Rounds four through seven are scheduled for today, beginning at noon.

Mallett threw for 62 touchdowns and 19 interceptions in his two seasons at Arkansas and led the Razorbacks to the Sugar Bowl last year. Yet the 6-foot-6, 238-pounder grew irritable in February when he was asked repeatedly at the NFL combine about alleged drug use before ending the interview session.

A 2009 arrest for public intoxication is the only known setback for Mallett, who wound up the seventh quarterback taken.

“Obviously we’re comfortable. We took him,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said.

The 6-3, 270-pound Houston was thought to be a hot commodity because he excelled his last two seasons with the Bulldogs in 4-3 and 3-4 defensive schemes. He entered the draft expected to plummet because of concerns about his effort and after FoxSports.com reported that he tested positive for marijuana at the combine.

“That was the most disappointing guy I studied,” former Oakland and Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. “He had all the hoopla going, but I just don’t like guys who don’t play hard all the time. This guy has got to pick it up and become an every-down player to play for money at the next level.”

Houston admitted Friday night that some poor decisions likely put him in his predicament. He did make school history, becoming the first Bulldogs player to get drafted by Kansas City.

Another Georgia player, Akeem Dent, also went in the third round when the Atlanta Falcons snagged the 6-1, 242-pound linebacker. Dent led the Bulldogs last season with 126 tackles.

The SEC had 10 first-round selections Thursday night, tying the second-most in its history. The league nearly got shut out of the second round until Florida offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert and Kentucky receiver Randall Cobb were the final two selections, going to Pittsburgh and Green Bay, respectively.

Alabama did not have any second- or third-round picks after producing four first-rounders, which broke the program mark of three set in 1993 with defensive ends John Copeland and Eric Curry and safety George Teague.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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