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The Friday Five: A Ryan Mallett Extravaganza

I'm actually starting to get to that point everyone gets to in mid April - when we just can't stand all of the hearsay, assumptions, over-analysis, and misinformation and we just want the NFL Draft to get here. I can probably guarantee that Ryan Mallett feels the same way.

When the draft process started, Cam Newton was probably the most publicly scrutinized player in the draft. But the past couple weeks have seen Mallett become the hottest "draft pinata" - and everybody seems to want to take a swing.

That's where we start this week's "five."

1. "Mallett-palooza" taking over in South Florida. There's no question that the hottest topic among Dolphin fans recently has been Ryan Mallett - the big-armed, highly scrutinized, and very talented Arkansas quarterback. The attention on him among Dolphins fans has only grown recently as the Dolphins wrap up a two-day visit with the quarterback today - the fourth time the Dolphins have met privately with the kid since the Combine, according to Armando Salguero.

We've already discussed Mallett a lot around here. We know his on-field strengths and weaknesses. And we know there are some "character red flags" regarding Mallett - though nobody really seems to know for sure how much truth is behind these rumors. They include everything from lacking leadership to possible problems with drugs and alcohol.

On Thursday, two more decided to line up and take a big swing at the Mallett pinata - Brian Billick and Jamie Dukes. Speaking on WQAM yesterday, Billick shared his thoughts on Mallett with Joe Rose, saying, "I like what he does physically. There's some things I'm worried about: his maturity--He's got Ryan Leaf written all over him."

Dukes went one step further on NFL Total Access on Wednesday, making perhaps the most ridiculous claim yet.

"For the lack of a better phrase, he’s kind of the first - and forgive this phrase - kind of the Caucasian street guy," said Dukes. "And what I mean by that, he’s got that Eminem, slash, ya know, Vanilla Ice thing that goes on. I just don’t think, truthfully, people are accustomed to seeing a quarterback having a little street in him. And I think that’s kind of unsettling."

Really? That's where we're going with this now? I actually feel bad for the kid. Luckily, Jorge Sedano had Mallett on the air yesterday before his meeting with the Dolphins began and let Ryan respond to some of the criticism he's faced during this process. And I must say Mallett came off quite well in the interview, which you can read about here.

2. There's going to be a new running back skyrocketing up draft boards. I'm talking about Eastern Washington's Taiwan Jones, who ran his 40 in the low 4.3s at his Pro Day on Thursday despite only being 90% recovered from a broken foot that he suffered. And this kid is scheduled to meet with the Dolphins next week. Keep this in the back of your mind come draft weekend. The Dolphins want speed. Jones has a ton of speed. Do the math.

3. It can't be a good thing when your "life coach" fires you. That's reportedly what happened to former number one pick JaMarcus Russell. He had been working with John Lucas in hopes of turning his career around. But Lucas is believed to have asked Russell to leave Houston. So let's get this straight. Lucas, who makes a career out of helping athletes with personal problems (and is paid handsomely to do so) has told Russell he won't work with him anymore. Is that a new low?

4. Dinner with "The Beast." That's what occurred on Thursday night when Brandon Marshall, via Twitter and his website, treated 50 fans to dinner at a local South Florida Chili's. He may have stolen the idea from Chad Johnson, who did this last year a few times. But it's still a tremendous act any time a professional athlete goes above and beyond the call of duty. Seriously great stuff here, folks. And it was all made possible thanks to, of all things, Twitter.

5. Time for some NBA Playoff predictions. In the East, I'm going to go with the Bulls over the Heat in the East. Out West, I like the Lakers over the Spurs - giving us a classic Bulls vs Lakers NBA Finals. Sorry Heat fans, I just don't see how they will handle the Bulls in a seven game series.