The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft is in the books, and while 10 SEC players - including five of the top six selected - heard their names called, Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett did not.
Character concerns have dropped Mallett out of the first round. He was expected to go after Auburn's Cameron Newton and Missouri's Blaine Gabbert, but he was also in the mix with three quarterbacks for that spot. As it played out, Washington QB Jake Locker came off the board at No. 8 to Tennessee before Jacksonville traded up to snag Gabbert at 10. Florida State's Christian Ponder was selected by Minnesota at No. 12 overall and was the last quarterback taken in the first round. All those players can outrun Mallett, but not one of them can throw a football the way Mallett can.
The Miami Dolphins have an apparent need at quarterback, but they opted for Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey with the No. 15 overall selection. Miami met with Mallett a few times during the process. He was a possibility at 16, but Washington decided to get someone to get after the Ryan Malletts of the world by selecting Purdue defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.
The next eight teams all had established quarterbacks or young quarterbacks who were recently highly drafted, so the next potential spot for Mallett came at No. 25. However, Seattle made the surprise selection of Alabama offensive tackle James Carpenter. There were seven picks to go in the first round, and all those teams have quarterbacks already. Unless there was a trade, the Carpenter selection meant Mallett would have to wait another day to hear his name called.
He could hear it early Friday. With the No. 2 pick in the second round, No. 34 overall, the Buffalo Bills are in the market for a quarterback. The Bills went defense with their No. 3 overall pick when they chose Alabama defensive tackle Marcell Dareus.
Here's something intriguing, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Georgia's A.J. Green with the No. 4 overall pick. He is the top wide receiver in the draft. With longtime quarterback Carson Palmer expressing strong interest to change teams, Mallett may be a great pick to go with a big-time receiver like Green with that 35th pick. The selection may even make Palmer change his mind...
If either of those teams pass on a quarterback or selects TCU quarterback Andy Dalton ahead of Mallett, the Razorback could fall to No. 38 where the Arizona Cardinals are in need of a quarterback. Mallett-to-Larry Fitzgerald would be an exciting tandem. Arizona selected LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson with the No. 5 overall pick.
The next possibility for Mallett is the Washington Redskins, who pick at No. 41, and after that it's the San Francisco 49ers at No. 45. There are plenty of teams in need of a quarterback in the first half of the second round, so there could also be some trades to sneak ahead of others who have interest in Mallett.