Former New England Patriots’ director of college scouting Thomas Dimitroff made his first major move as newly minted General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons when he used the third overall selection on Boston College’s Matt Ryan, who is regarded as the best quarterback in the draft.
The 22-year-old Ryan is being given the keys to what is less a Ferrari and more a Fiat in an Atlanta Falcons team which finished the 2007 season with a 4-12 record, in a year when their franchise QB Michael Vick was convicted of a felony and removed from the team and new head coach Bobby Petrino resigned just 13 games into the campaign.
Despite the fact that we’ve covered the draft ad nauseam for the past few weeks, with many Internet Explorer windows open simultaneously, let’s put together one final scouting report about the man whom the Falcons hope will save this franchise.
Matt Ryan has the frame to play the position: he’s 6’5 and weighs 224 pounds, with the ability to tack on some extra muscle that he’ll need to survive in the NFL.
His footwork is exceptional, and he already goes through his progressions at an NFL level. The throwing mechanics are also picturesque.
Ryan has exhibited the ability to thread the needle and throw the ball in tight windows on short-to-intermediate routes, especially excelling in his ability to hit wide receivers in stride on crossing routes. He’s also very accurate while throwing on the run when forced out of the pocket.
Ryan never seems to be rattled under pressure and looks to have ice running through his veins, consistently exhibiting toughness and grit in the face of both opposing pass rushes and the big moment itself. His fourth quarter 2007 game tape against Virginia Tech showcased these qualities and was maybe the single biggest advocate for selecting Matt Ryan so high in the draft.
Maybe the strongest attribute Ryan has going for him is what’s on the inside: the intangibles. He’s a natural born leader who reportedly always spends extra hours at the gym and in the film room and never looks to blame any of his teammates for any mistakes they make. Ryan is the type of quarterback other players rally around and want to play with.
Matt Ryan’s biggest weakness is his lack of accuracy when throwing the ball deep. He lacks timing and showcases both inconsistent velocity and weak arm strength when looking for the homerun ball.
Ryan can also stand to improve his ball security, as he had 17 fumbles in his college career. He actually needs to work on limiting his turnovers in general after throwing 19 interceptions in his senior year and 37 interceptions in total throughout his college career.
While he can run and is proficient in throwing on the run, the Falcons shouldn’t expect Ryan to be the second coming of Michael Vick, as he won’t be a serious threat to burn a defense with his legs.
Ryan also tends to force some throws into windows which are too tight, something Atlanta’s new coaching staff will have to work with him on in practice.
Matt Ryan is certainly a risky pick for the Falcons to have made with the third overall selection. While he is considered to be head and shoulders above than any other quarterback in this draft, there was question as to whether or not any quarterback in this class was worthy of a top 5 selection.
This pick won’t come without controversy, as a large contingent of Falcons fans (including Dave the Falconer) were hoping that the team would select DT Glenn Dorsey out of LSU, who is widely regarded as the most physically dominant player in the draft. Only time will tell whether or not Dimitroff made the right move in passing on Dorsey.
Atlanta has turned to Matt Ryan to help eventually take this team out of the doldrums. He has time to get acclimated to the NFL and to work on improving his deep ball accuracy and ball security, as the Falcons aren’t expected to make it back to the playoffs for another two or three seasons while in this rebuilding mode.
Ryan’s leadership and intangibles give him a foundation upon which to build to become a successful quarterback at the next level. We hope that Matt Ryan not only proves to be worthy of the third overall selection, but that he also makes the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams regret passing on him at the pinnacle of the draft.