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Is Matt Ryan the best Falcons first rounder ever?

Our writers debate whether the results of the fan poll match reality.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

There will be surprises in these polls as we roll along, no doubt, but there wasn’t one when we presented you with a lengthy poll covering the best first rounder in Falcons history.

As of Thursday afternoon, Matt Ryan is running away with it, having pulled down 45% of the vote overall. Julio Jones is second with 28%, followed by Deion Sanders (14%), Tommy Nobis (4%), Steve Bartkowski (2%), and Claude Humphrey and Mike Kenn (1% each). There’s undoubtedly an element of recency bias here—Nobis was one of the great players of his era and Kenn is a Hall of Fame-caliber tackle—but I don’t think anyone should be surprised by the results.

Now that they’re in, The Falcoholic team has a few thoughts on their own personal best ever picks in the first round, and whether you guys nailed it with your votes.

Dave Choate - Matt Ryan

It’s tempting to push hard for Kenn here, given that he’s got an astonishingly great career to fall back on and is snubbed far too often, but Ryan is still the obvious pick here. He’s led this team to one of their two Super Bowl berths and did virtually everything he could to get them over the hump in that game, he owns every franchise passing mark, and he’s still going strong at arguably the most important position on the football field. I’d push hard for Nobis and Kenn to be much closer to Julio Jones at #2, but you guys got this one.

Kevin Knight - Matt Ryan

These types of things are always going to suffer from recency bias, but I think Matt Ryan is the clear choice regardless. A league MVP and the best franchise QB the Falcons have ever seen—it’s simply impossible to beat that. If we’re talking pure talent, maybe I could hear an argument for Julio Jones or Deion Sanders. But at the end of the day, with positional value taken into account, Ryan is the clear choice.

Adnan Ikic - Matt Ryan

Every single name in that poll deserves to be praised, but Matt Ryan is the magnum opus of Falcons first rounders. The only Falcon to ever win the MVP award, he’s been the poster child of the greatest era in Atlanta Falcons history, and has re-written the franchise record books numerous times. Deion Sanders was fantastic, but he didn’t have the longevity or franchise impact (having played for the Falcons for just five years) that Ryan has had (11 years and counting). I do think Tommy Nobis and Claude Humphrey deserve a little bit more of the vote, but I understand why things shook out the way they did, with not as many people having had the pleasure of watching them play (myself included).

Cory Woodroof - Julio Jones

Y’know, every round table needs a contrarian, so I’ll argue Jones was the best first-round pick. I think Matt Ryan is a stupendous franchise leader and a deserving pick for perhaps the best Atlanta Falcon ever, but I think “best first rounder” can be a flexible definition. Jones’ drafting, in and of itself, is the most interesting thing the Falcons have ever done at the NFL Draft in their 50-plus years of existence. Getting Julio here involved a dramatic trade-up for a superstar talent for a team that already had a top receiver in Roddy White. It was the surge of adrenaline a languished team needed to get close to a Super Bowl in 2012, and while we can debate how it affected the team’s draft capital in the years to come, getting the Jet in Atlanta was a masterpiece the team is likely never to replicate. Plus, if we’re really doing some comparisons, Jones might be the best talent of his generation, only bolstering the brilliance of moving up to get him. He’s my pick.