Ryan Mallett dodges questions on rumors


INDIANAPOLIS -- Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett was on the podium for about eight seconds when a reporter asked him about foggy allegations regarding illegal drug use.

"First one, huh?" Mallett replied Saturday afternoon at the NFL scouting combine.

He forced a smile.

"Nah, I'm not going to talk about that right now," Mallett said. "I've got interviews with the teams, and the teams need to know what they need to know, and I'm going to leave it at that."

Multiple outlets, including the NFL Network, have alluded to vague character issues. In a story for 101 ESPN Radio in St. Louis, former NFL executive Tony Softli wrote "Character and drug use issues are starting to rear their ugly head" about Mallett.

The powerful thrower had been considered one of the top three or four quarterbacks in this year's draft class, but analysts have erased him from their first-round projections over the past month.

Mallett hinted at ulterior motives for the rumors.

"Obviously, somebody did it for a reason," Mallett said, "right before the combine, right before the draft."

Mallett insisted innuendo "doesn't bother me" and "when I saw that stuff, I laughed about it."

But Mallett declined to address any issues directly or make any denials.

He said he would limit any explanations to his interviews with interested teams. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins are the AFC East teams that have expressed a desire to upgrade at quarterback.

"I believe [the interviews] are very important, but also for other players," Mallett said. "A lot of times you don't get to be around the coaches, be around the management like you do here. To be able to be within three feet of them, talking face-to-face, you can talk man-to-man, and that's important for all of us."

What would he tell teams about himself?

"I would say I'm a great person," Mallett said. "But I also would tell them to ask the coaches and ask the people that I worked with before. If you want to know about my character, ask them and they'll tell you."