The Patriots back-up quarterback could have gone first overall. The Patriots had him as the highest ranked quarterback in the draft, so when he fell into the third round the front office just couldn't resist.
Ryan Mallett is 6'7, 250 lbs, and has a cannon for an arm. He's been tutoring beneath one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He's been coached by one of the best coaches of all time.
He also has everything to prove.
Mallett took it upon himself to throw at Arkansas' Pro Day, where all thirty two teams stood watch to evaluate the college prospects. You can guarantee that these are the same teams comparing the soon-to-be 26 year old Mallett to the soon-to-be 24 AJ McCarron and seeing that Mallett might be more worthy of their 3rd round pick.
According to sources, Mallett looked "[physically] ok," but was impressive on "deep outs and go routes." So maybe not much has changed during his time in New England. He has to develop his touch on short passes if he wants to be successful in this age of efficiency.
Either way, either Mallett provides much-needed depth, with experience in the Patriots system as back-up quarterback, or he's traded for a valuable draft chip.