Patriots backup quarterback Ryan Mallett’s character was scrutinized as he ran through the rigors of the 2011 pre-draft process, and he plummeted to the third round because of those concerns.

The critics might need to start paying more attention. Do they know he’ll graduate from Arkansas on Saturday with a sociology degree? Do they know he immediately requested to work as a coach at yesterday’s football clinic at Harvard for high school youths with disabilities? And do they know one of those kids has been Mallett’s pen pal since he attended last year’s event?

Mallett, in other words, has looked nothing like the immature quarterback with a top-10 arm and third-round contract from two years ago. Maybe that’s why the trade requests picked up this offseason, when the Cleveland Browns called multiple times and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also displayed interest in acquiring Mallett from the Pats.

Mallett, who turns 25 next month, hasn’t made a peep off the field since joining the Patriots. And by yesterday’s actions, the transition from a questionable prospect into a maturing adult appears to be progressing the way the Pats intended when they selected him. It could help them yield a greater return on their draft investment if they’re able to trade him, whether talks resurface this offseason or next.

Mallett said he routinely returned to campus this offseason to pass the final two classes to get his degree, and he beamed about it yesterday.

“The teachers worked with me really well,” Mallett said. “They knew I had to come back. I’ve been going back the past few weekends to finish up. They let me do it on the weekends, so it’s been really nice.”

Mallett was also running all over the field yesterday with 150 kids who showed up for the camp, throwing them passes, celebrating their touchdown runs and applauding their end zone dances. It was as genuine as it gets.

“Today has been awesome,” Mallett said. “I got to come out here last year and do the same event. I’ve seen some of the same kids, and they remember me. We’ve just had a blast out here playing football.”