Why? They came to see Mallett throw. And he wowed everyone again.
An NFL quarterback coach who saw the combine -- judged by everyone as off-the-charts good -- thought Tuesday's performance was better. Even Mallett admitted there was not a single pass in this throwing workout that he'd want back.
"I liked them all," he said. "I thought it was a good workout. I was spinning it, the ball was really spinning. It was like being back in practice here."
Mallett had his old buddies to run routes and catch. He dazzled with every throw imaginable and was perfect on the series of long bombs that were absolutely perfect. Running routes for Mallett were D. J. Williams, Ben Cleveland, Reggie Fish, Michael Smith, London Crawford and Van Stumon. Smith, Fish and Crawford finished with the Hogs in 2009.
"It went good," Mallett said. "It was a pretty good workout. It was good to see some of those guys. I hadn't thrown to some of them in two years. It was good to get back in Walker and let it fly.
"I think it was consistent with the workout I had at the combine. I improved some of my numbers in some things. I was pleased with the day.
"I wanted to be more consistent in my throwing. They had asked me to keep the tempo faster in the throwing drill and I think I did that."
What about the 40-yard dash time?
"I had a bad start," he said. "I don't really care. Everyone knows I'm not Mike Vick."
Mallett had around 20 members of the local media hanging on his every word. It was probably a more pleasant experience than he had at the NFL combine media session. He was asked about what some members of the national media called an abrupt ending.
"I didn't walk out," he said. "The moderator said, 'Last question.' I had answered one question four times. I was going to say the same thing if they asked it six times."
Did he think he was judged unfairly? Has there been too much negativity in the draft coverage?
"Oh, you get used to it," he said. "I've had it before. I always look at it as I must be doing something right. It's always been something (from the media) every since high school."
Mallett thought the individual meetings with NFL coaches and brass were the highlight of the combine trip. He said he loved talking football and drawing plays or concepts on blank pieces of paper or on the grease board.
"That was great and I really got into that," he said. "It's my favorite part. They talked to me about football and some other things. I think the football IQ part went very good. I think when I get a chance to show what defenses do and how you attack them, it's something that goes well. I can draw it up because that's what we have to do here."
Arkansas offensive coordinator Garrick McGee conducted Mallett's throwing workout. Mallett said McGee has been in the loop over the past few weeks even after he's left the program.
"I've been talking to him a lot since the (bowl game) and he's always going to be close to my family," Mallett said. "It was good to have him out there."
Mallett said everything that he's learned from McGee and head coach Bobby Petrino has prepared him for his current spot under close scrutiny by the NFL teams.
"You have to have thick skin to be in the meeting room here and with Coach Petrino," he said. "Playing for them really is going to help prepare you for this."
Mallett's teammates spoke up for him after Tuesday's workouts, starting with tight end D. J. Williams. That's a high character guy talking about another player's character if you want to get down to brass tacks.
"I'm not going to BS anyone because we all know that Ryan got a public intox charge several years ago here," Williams said. "But he's grown up so much since then. He's come a long way. He cares about his team, his teammates and he cares about his future. He's changed.
"Then, you want to add the cherry to the ice cream, you have the fact that he played for Coach Petrino. Coach has turned us all from boys into men. It's not just Ryan, but an entire team that he's done that with."
The bottom line, Williams said, is that any NFL team "would be stupid not to draft Ryan. He's the best quarterback on the draft board. He can make the throws that no one else can.
"You talk about the 'it' factor, he has it."
Offensive tackle Ray Dominguez shared his thoughts on Mallett, too. He said he'd gotten questions from NFL teams during his private interviews at the combine.
"They asked me about Ryan," Dominguez said. "It's a sad deal what some have written about him. We know Ryan. He had his moments a few years ago, but when he puts on the pads, he's the guy you want to take you down the field. He's the man you believe in and the guy you want. I told the guys (at the combine) if you are looking for a leader, Mallett is your guy."
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