Grab bag: Mallett sliding, Ponder rising, QB dealing?

Auburn’s Cam Newton and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett, two ultra-talented quarterbacks with off-the-field question marks, will both have their pro days Tuesday.

It’s safe to assume that Mallett is not a first-round consideration for the 49ers, but he does have the distinct whiff of a quarterback who could slide into the second round due, in part, to the will-he-pass-his-next-drug-test drama.

At the combine, NFL Network’s Mike Mayock termed the cannon-armed Mallett a “first-round talent that will not be picked in the first round.” Mayock touched on Mallett’s inconsistency – citing a two-play sequence against Georgia this past season when Mallett followed a jaw-dropping, 35-yard laser with a just-awful, seven-yard hitch that three Georgia defenders touched. Mayock’s kind-of-funny summation: “It was a bad decision. It was a worse throw.”

More Mayock-on-Mallett analysis, “When he gets pressure sometimes and the pocket collapses, I don’t think he’s got great feet to slide, move, find vision, redirect and throw the football. And I think you have to do that at the next level. And I think off-the-field perceived issues are red flags. I’m not going to tell you I know more than anyone else. But there are enough red flags there that you have to do your homework.”

• Based on the post-combine buzz, LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson and Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder might be rising beyond the 49ers’ reach in the first round and second round, respectively.

Peterson now occupies the No. 1 spot in Mel Kiper’s top-25 rankings and former Rams personnel executive Tony Softli has also fallen head over heels.

In Softli’s review of Peterson, he terms him the “best corner I’ve graded in the past eight to 10 years.”

More from Softli: “Athletically, I compare him to Charles Woodson. Peterson’s cover skills match those of Darrelle Revis, but he is more physical than Revis. He is a more complete corner then Asante Samuel because of his zone skills and awareness in space, and his tackling skills are better than all three NFL veterans.”


As for Ponder, the Niners, whose second-round pick is No. 45 overall, would have to trade up to get him, according to ESPN’s John Clayton, “Ponder will drop no further than Cincinnati toward the top of the second round, and there is a good chance a team in the second round would trade up to get him. But his ability to fit into West Coast offenses could make him the third quarterback to be drafted this April.”

Mayock views Ponder as a second-round selection and places him in a tier with Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick, TCU’s Andy Dalton and Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi.

“I like Ponder,” Mayock said. “And I made the comment that when you get a quarterback with arm issues, it’s not unlike a baseball pitcher with arm issues. And it makes people nervous. I thought the Senior Bowl was kind of his coming-out party after he had the concussion and the arm issues and everything else. I think he’s an accurate thrower with good feet that’s best suited to the classic West Coast Offense.”

• ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that at least three teams are “debating deals” for Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb (NFL teams can discuss trades, but can’t complete them). Schefter didn’t mention specific teams but said “every NFC West team except St. Louis has to consider him and deal with Eagles.”

The Eagles, who have re-signed Michael Vick, are obviously seeing what they can extract from their quarterback-starved brethren. Is Kolb worth the No. 7 overall pick? Well, he has a chance to be an above-average NFL quarterback — the seventh pick sounds like it’s worth the risk.

“We’re still evaluating all our options and all our positions,” Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said at the combine. “… We don’t discuss any (trade) discussions, external or internal.”

• Sports Illustrated’s Jim Trotter has some great behind-the-scenes details from last week’s NFL labor negotiations in a guest appearance in Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback column.

Trotter says the players’ union was thisclose to decertifying last week. In fact, a member of the union’s legal team was on the phone ready to make the decertification call five minutes before the deadline.

Who knew mediation could be so dramatic?

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