The Case Against Matt Ryan

Alright, I guess it's time for me to lay it all out on the line.  So that's what I'm going to do.  I'm here today to tell you all (like you really care, but I'm going to do it anyway) that I am completely against the idea of the Dolphins taking Matt Ryan with the #1 overall pick.  I'm sure many of you have assumed this based on some of the things we've talked about recently, but now I will go on record and say that I hope the Dolphins do not take Matt Ryan first overall.

So, why am I against Matt Ryan?  Well, despite what some think, it's not because I'm 100% sold on John Beck.  After all, how could anyone be sold on him after last season?  My feelings on Beck are that I think there's more of a chance he becomes a very good quarterback in this league than there is of him turning into a total bust.  But that's not what this is about.

What this is about is me not being sold on Matt Ryan enough to take him #1 overall and pay him the $35+ million in guaranteed money that he'll be looking for.  So I'll present some arguments as to why I am not sold on Ryan, but I am aware that this is very subjective and somebody could easily make a case in favor of Ryan.  

Let me start by just pointing out the "bust-rate" of quarterbacks drafted in the top 5 of the last 18 drafts.  Below are the QBs, with their pick # in parentheses:

  1. JaMarcus Russell (1)
  2. Vince Young (3)
  3. Alex Smith (1)
  4. Eli Manning (1), Philip Rivers (4)
  5. Carson Palmer (1)
  6. David Carr (1), Joey Harrington (3)
  7. Michael Vick (1)
  8. Tim Couch (1), Donovan McNabb (2), Akili Smith (3)
  9. Peyton Manning (1), Ryan Leaf (2)
  10. Steve McNair (3), Kerry Collins (5)
  11. Heath Shuler (3)
  12. Drew Bledsoe (1), Rick Mirer (2)
  13. Jeff George (1)
So that's a total of 20 quarterbacks taken in the top 5 since 1990.  Of those 20, I count 10 as either slight disappointments or major disappointments.  Those 10 are Alex Smith, David Carr, Joey Harrington, Michael Vick, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Ryan Leaf, Heath Shuler, Rick Mirer, and Jeff George.  That's 50% of the QBs picked in the top 5.  And that's with me leaving off Kerry Collins and Drew Bledsoe, though I don't think either of them would be worthy of a top 5 pick if you went back and redrafted after seeing the future.  

Also, of the 10 QBs picked #1 overall, 5 of them are busts.  That's a very high rate of disappointment for top QBs in the NFL Draft.  Is that a risk you want to take?  Is it really a good idea for a franchise that's in the kind of mess it's in and with the number holes it has to take a huge risk and invest that kind of money into Matt Ryan when history shows that the "bust rate" for QBs is fairly high?  I just don't see how it is worth it, especially considering if the Dolphins take Ryan and he never pans out, that would set this franchise back even more (which is hard to imagine considering the new lows this franchise seems to reach with each passing year).

The second argument I want to make is another very subjective one, but a fair one to make.  It's been said by many recently that the two best predictors in terms of college stats to try and see how a college quarterback will transition to the NFL are career starts and completion percentage.  For Matt Ryan, that would be a relatively low number of starts, with 31, but a relatively decent completion percentage of 60%.  If you go back as far as 1998, Ryan's closest comparisons to QBs taken in round 1 would be Rex Grossman and Vince Young, as both had 32 career starts and completed 61% of their passes in college.  Neither has had much success in the NFL, though Young is still young (no pun intended) and Grossman did reach a Super Bowl.  A lot of the success Young has had, though, has been thanks to his athleticism, which Ryan clearly doesn't have.

Actually, this Matt Ryan/Rex Grossman comparison got me thinking a bit.  Both players are very alike.  Sure, Grossman is only 6'1 while Ryan is almost 6'5, but read the following scouting report below from NFL Draft Countdown:

Strengths
Smart and understands how to read a defense...Is a natural born leader...Solid technique and mechanics...Displays great poise...Good touch and timing...Able to buy time in the pocket...Throws well on the run...A hard worker

Weaknesses
Arm strength is only average...Still throws too many interceptions...Accuracy can be streaky...Struggles with the deep ball...A bit of a gunslinger who will play too recklessly at times...Not very mobile and won't beat you with his feet...May have some minor durability issues...Isn't a great athlete...May not have a huge upside.

Notes
Really emerged as a top pro prospect as a senior, propelling his team to a great season even though he was surrounded by ordinary talent...Physical tools aren't special but they're adequate across the board and his intangibles are second to none...A safe pick who should become a solid starter at the next level but probably isn't a franchise signal caller.

Maybe I'm crazy, but does that report sound like a description of Rex Grossman to a certain extent?  Fine, maybe it is just me.  Regardless, though, is this the kind of player you want to spend the #1 overall pick on and give a boatload of money to?  A player who is a leader and has poise but lacks arm strength, accuracy, and forces too many throws?  Maybe it's just me, but how can you justify drafting a player with the first overall pick whose "physical tools aren't special but they're adequate"?  Oh, and please don't come back at me by saying Mike Mayock, whose opinion is usually held in high regard, believes Matt Ryan is going to be great.  Of course Mayock says that.  He, like Ryan, went to and played for Boston College and it's rumored that Mayock is a friend of Matt Ryan's family.  So what's he going to say?

I could still go on and on about why I'm against the idea of taking Matt Ryan #1 overall.  But I think I laid a solid foundation to give you all some perspective as to why I feel the way I do.  Yes, there's more.  But some already touched on these ideas in this diary and I don't want to sound like a broken record or anything.  But when all is said and done, I'll stand behind the decision of Bill Parcells and Jeff Ireland.  And if, for some reason, they like Matt Ryan and decide he is worthy of the #1 overall pick, I'll live with it.  After all, they are the ones getting paid the big bucks to make these decisions for this franchise.  I'm just one of the many who spend the big bucks to support this franchise.

Thoughts below...

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