The Big Lie
The big lie of the 2008 NFL Draft is that Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan is just as talented as Philip Rivers and Ben Roesthlisberger and Eli Manning and therefore will be just as successful as them in the NFL. This lie goes on to assert that for that reason and because the team needs a QB, Atlanta should draft him.
The people telling this lie fail to take one key consideration into account and that is that Rivers, Manning and Roethlisberger all were drafted into good situations and the Falcons situation is a mess. The Falcons have a rotten offensive line, lower half skill people, a mediocre defense and little hope of being much better this season.
Drafting Matt Ryan would be a huge mistake.
Matt Ryan may be just as talented as Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger, I buy that, but Matt Ryan – or any of those other guys – would be in over their heads trying to rescue the Falcons.
Atlanta is not a quarterback away from competitive. Atlanta is a QB, a tight end, three good offensive lineman, another stout defensive lineman, a good linebacker and some secondary help away from being competitive. Matt Ryan is good, but he's not good enough to make up for all those shortcomings. Neither would Rivers, Roethlisberger or Manning have been coming out of college.
Each of those three went to great situations in the Draft. Rivers went to San Diego where he backed up Drew Brees for two years and when he finally took over he did so with the best tight end in football, the best running back in football, a strong offensive line and a tough aggressive defense that forced turnovers and covered for his mistakes.
What about that situation is similar to what Matt Ryan would be getting himself into in Atlanta?
Matt Ryan and Philip Rivers may have similar talent, but their situations would be all different. Put Rivers with this Falcon team out of N.C. State, ask him to start year one, and you'd have an unmitigated disaster on your hands.
Ben Roethlisberger was drafted by the Steelers. A Pittsburgh team that was 6-10 the previous season with a number of narrow loses. He went to a bedrock NFL franchise with great stability, a top flight head coach, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, a first rate offensive line and a stout defense. Don't forget, Roethlisberger, on average, completed about 12 passes a game in that Steelers Super Bowl season so he hardly had to carry the load. Roethlisberger was a manager for that team, not a difference maker. The Falcons need a difference maker at QB and Ryan is a manager.
Matt Ryan is a nice prospect. Great Size, good arm, fair athlete, all the intangibles, smart kid, but by no one's account is he an exceptional talent. When you draft someone in the top five picks at QB, you're looking for exceptional talent and that's not Matt Ryan.
Matt Ryan isn't in JeMarcus Russell's world when it comes to talent. Russell went #1 overall to Oakland in 2007.
I saw a lot of B.C. games this year and Ryan played well, he had some dramatic comebacks and touchdown passes, but the ACC was a bad league, he threw a ton of reckless interceptions and he doesn't strike you as a John Elway, carry the team, kind of player.
That's what the Falcons need and there isn't one in this draft.
Just because Philip Rivers and Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning have had great early success in their NFL careers and just because Matt Ryan is about as good as they were at the same time, don't assume those players would have been as successful anywhere or that Ryan can be successful anywhere.
Remember that Eli Manning was an average NFL QB before December of this past season. He's played one exceptional month of pro football and you can't take that away from him, but how productive do you think he'd be in Atlanta?
Not very. That's my point.
Manning, Rivers and Roethlisberger are good QBs in great situations. The Falcons are a Superfund site.
The time and place are all wrong for Matt Ryan and the Falcons.
Quarterback is the most important position in all of sports, yet no other position is so dependant on teammates for success.
To succeed under center you need a good line, a decent running game, solid receivers and a defense that can get you the ball and cover for you from time to time. It's not like running back or corner where Barry Sanders or Deion Sanders could be individually brilliant and successful despite weak teammates. Success at QB isn't like success in the NBA where LeBron James or Kobe Bryant can be outstanding on sub-par teams.
The quarterback needs other good people around him to be productive and the Falcons don't have those other people.
Put Matt Ryan in Atlanta, ask him to carry the load and be the focal point of the offense and he becomes David Carr in Houston or Joey Harrington in Detroit. Those were two other good QBs drafted into bad spots who had their careers blow up around them.
Matt Ryan's no better than David Carr was or Joey Harrington was coming out of college and they both failed in bad spots. The same thing would happen to Ryan in Atlanta.
Matt Ryan may have a good NFL career, he has most of the tools you look for, but it won't be in Atlanta because the Falcons aren't close enough to good to cover up for his shortcomings.