First, before we get into anything here, I did want to just point out that the 2008 SB Nation Mock Draft is officially underway. I've made the first overall pick for the Dolphins and Ryan of Turf Show Times has made the second pick for the Rams. You can follow along with this mock draft, as well as get insight from the owner of New Era Scouting, Matt Miller, by heading over to Matt's SBN blog, Mocking The Draft.
Alright. Now onto the business at hand. Some people here have been clamoring for me to lay off Matt Ryan a bit. And perhaps I've been a little hard on the kid. So with that in mind, here are some of the things I like about the player affectionately known as "Matty Ice."
The first thing that stands out is his size. He's got the prototypical size that people look for in a quarterback, measuring in at just under 6'5 and 228 pounds. And he's got a frame which would allow him to even add 5 to 10 pounds of muscle. So he's certainly not a frail quarterback.
I also like his accuracy underneath. He's very good and hitting receivers who are coming across the field or running hooks. I've also seen some very solid throws by Ryan to receivers running both post patterns and flag patterns. So accuracy, from my end, isn't a huge concern. Sure, you can bring up the interceptions, but we'll get to them a little later.
MOST IMPRESSED WITH
Below are the things I'm most impressed with when watching Matt Ryan play, something I've been doing the past couple of days to get a fair read on his ability:
He really does do a great job of scanning the entire field. I saw him on numerous plays look to his 3rd and 4th options, which many times involved coming back and looking to the complete opposite side of the field from his primary read. That's something you don't see much of out of young quarterbacks. He's also very smart and can read defenses. Of course, it's his decision making that gets him into trouble at times. But we'll get to that in a few minutes.
This has been the one thing that the draft gurus have been clamoring about when they reference Matt Ryan. And for good reason. Everything you read about Ryan is how he is a true leader of a team. From his work ethic to how he handles himself under pressure, this kid well in all situations and is a guy who teammates will look to when the times are tough. And all you need to be convinced of this is to check out this previously posted video of Matt Ryan lead the game winning drive against Virginia Tech last season. No doubt, he is poised in pressure situations and can be a leader both on and off the field.
Dealing with the Media
I also really like how Ryan handles himself off the field in terms of dealing with the media. He comes off as a genuinely nice kid. And his willingness to do this ESPN chat impressed me. I also liked a lot of the answers he gave. Specifically, this one below when asked if he'd prefer sitting a year or competing to start right away:
I like that. He wants to come in and compete to play right away. But he knows that the team drafting him will dictate how that goes and he wouldn't have a problem sitting. Sure, you can say he's been prepped for these questions (and I'm sure he has), but I like that he's still confident enough in his ability to say that he wants to come in and compete right away for the starting spot.
Due to the length of this, you'll have to click the "Read More" link to see the rest.
QUIETING SOME CRITICISM
Two of the major criticisms of Matt Ryan are his high interception totals and his inconsistency. And yes, they do worry me.
However, let's address the interceptions first. And in doing so, it's important to point out that Dan Marino, his final season at Pitt, threw over 20 interceptions (I believe it was 23, but don't hold me to that). I think that many of Matt's interceptions were a result of just trying to force the ball into tight spots. He's a gunslinger, but unfortunately doesn't have the great arm strength that most gunslingers have. However, this is a trait that can be improved with some coaching.
Also, in that ESPN chat, Ryan was asked about the INTs he threw, to which he responded:
Now, if Ryan is saying that the coaches wanted him to try and make plays, then his high interception total is completely understandable.
The other criticism of Ryan, like I said, is his inconsistency last season. But I was actually impressed with how he bounced back from bad games.
For example, he struggled against NC State last year, throwing for just 142 yards, completing only 44% of his passes. However, he followed up that game by traveling to Georgia Tech and throwing for 435 yards and a touchdown, completing 68% of his passes. Then in their first loss of the season, to Florida State, Ryan completed just 49% of his passes and threw 3 interceptions. The following week, he bounced back by throwing for 421 yards, 3 touchdowns, and completed 59% of his passes (though he still threw 2 picks). In the end, his BC team lost 42-35. But that loss can't really be blamed on Matt.
What this shows, to me, is how confident he is in his ability and how mentally tough he is. And mental toughness is a must in this league. Just ask Joey Harrington!
Now with all this said, I do still think that there's a "slim to none" chance that Ryan is taken by the Dolphins with the first overall pick. But I do wish him the best, though, wherever he does end up, as he seems like a very good kid.