Four former Razorbacks have a shot at getting drafted into the NFL today and tomorrow, led by quarterback Ryan Mallett and tight end D.J. Williams.
Mallett, 6-7, 253, threw for 3,869 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He is the most talented pure passer in the draft.
Mallett has been the victim of one unfounded rumor after another since January, involving alleged drug use, poor work ethic, poor leadership qualities and just about every negative one can come up with. The worst part is all of it so far has come from anonymous sources, and if NFL teams are listening to reporters, it will have literally cost Mallett millions of dollars.
How bad has the character assassination on Mallett been? Take into consideration that Mallett is projected to go anywhere from the 1st to the 3rd round, but most experts believe he will fall to at least the 2nd. SI.com's Peter King said that if Mallett had Tim Tebow's reputation, he'd be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. That's how bad it is.
Mallett has shattered the perception that he's not a leader because anyone who has spoken to people who worked with him debunked that theory. The lies that he's not a hard-worker have also been proven false. The lies that he would make an 8 on the Wonderlic Test were also proven false when he scored a solid 26. Has Mallett ever used drugs? -Possibly. Has anyone proven it? -No. Has he ever failed a drug test? -No. Is it fair to write an article that stating Mallett is an alleged "drug addict?" -Absolutely not.
This is just one of many double-standards that have surrounded Mallett. Here's Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton with a police-documented checkered past. Throw out the allegation that his father accepted money from Auburn and Newton knew about it. There is still hard evidence that he was shopped around to at least one school, and there's an ongoing investigation into the other allegations. That's not even including his academic record at Florida, which involves him getting caught for cheating and the fact that was found with a stolen laptop, which he said he purchased. Mallett's only documented off-field error was a single public intox arrest before he ever played a down at Arkansas.
Mallett has been blasted for a game-losing interception he threw in the final minute against Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. But Missouri's Blaine Gabbert doesn't seem to catch any flak for throwing a game-losing 74-yard pick-six against Iowa in a 27-24 loss in the Insight Bowl.
Before he announced his intentions to leave for the NFL, his reporter once watched Mallett get blasted on ESPN for throwing an interception while off-balance. The next clip was of Stanford's Andrew Luck, who was praised for completing an 'athletic, off-balance' throw. Just because it was complete doesn't mean it's not usually a bad choice to throw falling back.
Mallett is the slowest of the top six projected quarterbacks, which includes Newton, Gabbert, Washington's Jake Locker, Florida State's Christian Ponder and TCU's Andy Dalton. But Mallett easily has the biggest arm and is the best prepared to take on a pro-style offense.
Projection: 1st Round, 3rd QB taken
Williams, 6-2, 245, led Arkansas with 54 catches and had 627 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns last season. While Mallett's character has been blasted, Williams' has been praised.
Williams' childhood was rocked by an abusive father. He, along with his mother and sister, escaped that abusive household and moved to Little Rock. The story is inspirational alone, even without the second half of it. Williams left Arkansas as one of the most beloved Razorbacks in the history of the school, and it had little to do with him winning the Mackey Award as the nation's best tight end.
For the team that drafts Williams, they will get a player who at the very least on the field will become their starting tight end. NFL Teams, if you act now, Arkansas will throw in a bonus package, including a team leader, a player who speaks from the heart in interviews but never seems to say the wrong thing, a community leader and a soon-to-be fan favorite.
Projection: 4th Rd, 3rd TE taken
There are more draft-eligible Razorbacks, many of whom will sign free agent agreements. Two have have a chance to be drafted are offensive tackles Demarcus Love and Ray Dominguez. Both are projected to slide inside to guard in the NFL. Love has a good chance to get drafted, but his stock has fallen since the end of the regular season after a sub-par showing in the Sugar Bowl and Senior Bowl. He did well at the NFL Combine, but he did not improve his status.