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King on Ryan and qbs this year.


Big Duke 6
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The curtain will be pulled back Tuesday afternoon on Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, the top passer in the 2008 draft pecking order. Ryan will work out in Chestnut Hill, Mass., on the same day another Miami/Atlanta/Kansas City candidate, Virginia defensive end Chris Long, goes on display in Charlottesville.

Long doesn't have anything to prove, having performed well at the scouting combine and done everything but the bench press (he had a sore thumb in February). Ryan has more to show because he didn't compete at the Senior Bowl and didn't do passing drills at the combine; and now it's been almost 12 weeks since anyone in the NFL has seen him throw a football.

His workout should be mobbed. Not because he's a cinch top five pick, which he isn't. In fact, scouts and coaches I've spoken with in the past few days don't have a good handle on how high he'll go. It's interesting how Ryan's being targeted. In e-mails to this column and on talk shows and Internet sites, you won't find many fan groups welcoming Ryan with open arms. They don't think he's done enough to merit top-of-the-draft inclusion. Something about his 19 interceptions last year, or his 59 percent accuracy, or the fact he just seems a little too polished. Who knows?

But the fans aren't the only skeptics. One scout for a team with a top 15 pick who was assigned to break down all the quarterbacks in the draft told me: "Is Matt going to be Philip Rivers or Eli Manning, or is he going to be Tim Couch or David Carr? I don't know. I think he's the best quarterback in this draft, but I see signs on the high and low end that worry me.''

I thought I'd give you a rundown of how the first handful of quarterbacks -- say, all the ones who could be picked in the top four rounds -- should fall off the board, if my panel of pros is to be believed.

Somewhere in the top eight picks: Matt Ryan, Boston College.

One scout told me he doesn't like how Ryan passes himself off as an everyman, yet refused to work at the Senior Bowl and again at the combine. His agent, Tom Condon, and his coach, Jeff Jagodzinski, advised him to skip the events because, as the lead dog in the hunt, he had nothing to gain. Truthfully, that's right, but you'll still find some teams who hate when a player has a chance to show his wares in front of the entire league and passes. They wonder what he has to hide. It's sort of silly because if you can't get a read on Ryan by watching his 654 throws at BC this year, what kind of scout are you?

"I'll tell you who [Ryan] is,'' Jagodzinski told me Friday. "Matt Hasselbeck. The way he carries himself, commands the huddle, competes, is hard on himself. He's got it all. All those teams talking about Matt [Ryan], saying, 'Yeah, but ...' would all line up to get Matt Hasselbeck right now.''

Jagodzinski, who just finished his first year at BC, said if he had another year with Ryan, he'd give him the Peyton Manning-playbook treatment. "I'd give him everything at the line of scrimmage, like Peyton, and let him call the game,'' Jagodzinski said.

Somewhere between the 20th and 45th picks: Brian Brohm, Louisville and Joe Flacco, Delaware.

Scouts are sniffing around trying to find out why Flacco transferred from Pitt to become a big fish (a tall one, too) in a small pond at Delaware. He told me at the combine it was because he thought he wouldn't be able to beat out the fair-haired Panther passer, Tyler Palko. Some NFL teams don't like that explanation; they think he should have fought for the job longer. But he's got the biggest arm in the draft. One scout wondered if his height (6-6½) and mediocre mobility will hurt him, because no quarterback that tall has ever been a great one.

Brohm would have been a top 10 pick a year ago, and his drop confuses me. He completed 65 percent of his throws, had 30 TDs and 12 picks, and threw for a career-high 4,024 yards. One scout told me Ryan edges Brohm in arm strength (slightly) and physical strength (slightly). Still, knocking Brohm down to the second round seems misguided. There's no good reason to do it.

I wouldn't be surprised to see a team trade into the low first-round region to get Brohm. A bottom pick in the first round signs for slightly more than $2 million annually (29th pick Ben Grubbs got $11 million over five years last year). If you had an anemic passing game, wouldn't you gamble that money for a 50-50 shot at your quarterback of the future?

The best thing that could happen to Brohm -- to any young quarterback, really -- would be to reprise the Aaron Rodgers story: get drafted by someone with an established guy nearing the end of his career, bide your time and soak everything in.

Third round: Chad Henne, Michigan and John David Booty, USC.

Henne's release -- quick, compact -- has gotten attention from a league that strives for whip-arms. But his inaccuracy on crosses and slants is troubling. Booty's a bit of a maddening prospect. He's the most pro-ready player in this draft, in terms of playbook education, pro-style knowledge and feel for the game. But he can be an aimer instead of a thrower. Some scouts wonder if he's hit his peak and won't improve much at the next level.

Fourth through sixth rounds: Eric Ainge, Tennessee; Andre Woodson, Kentucky; Matt Flynn, LSU; Dennis Dixon, Oregon and Joshua Johnson, San Diego.

Of all the players here, Dixon's the most intriguing. He's rehabbing the surgically repaired ACL in his left knee, hoping to work out for scouts in early April and do most of what the pros need to see. Woodson needs to have a good predraft experience with some teams to come out of his free-fall; scouts think he's a guy who will need max protection because of mediocre mobility. Flynn? Not on many radar screens, but he'll make someone a good third-string guy while he works 25-hour days adapting to the pro game.

It's not a very good crop, and there's nothing like a can't-miss guy. How ironic. The four teams mostly likely to take Ryan high -- Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore -- have been laboring at the position for different reasons. Miami's never been able to replace Dan Marino. Atlanta is still reeling from having its franchise quarterback KO'd in the Mike Vick-dogfighting case. Kansas City had a nice marriage with Trent Green 'til he got knocked silly early in 2006. And Baltimore's been looking for Mr. Goodbar since Johnny U. left town.

Mining for quarterbacks is a tough business. And whoever passes on Ryan will sweat out watching him over the next few years, needing Rolaids after every game he shines. If he does shine. That's the question everyone asks at this time of year about quarterbacks. You never know.

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Brohm would have been a top 10 pick a year ago, and his drop confuses me. ...knocking Brohm down to the second round seems misguided. There's no good reason to do it.

The question is "who has knocked him down", draft pundits, or NFL scouts? It seems illogical to think NFL scouts could have him rated a top 10 player one year, then rate him a 2nd round player the next year (after he had changed to a new coach and offensive systme and still had his best year in college.)

Draft pundits? The do it, but then they've never been known for logic.

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Brookhaven (3/18/2008)

Brohm would have been a top 10 pick a year ago, and his drop confuses me. ...knocking Brohm down to the second round seems misguided. There's no good reason to do it.

The question is "who has knocked him down", draft pundits, or NFL scouts? It seems illogical to think NFL scouts could have him rated a top 10 player one year, then rate him a 2nd round player the next year (after he had changed to a new coach and offensive systme and still had his best year in college.)

Draft pundits? The do it, but then they've never been known for logic.

His runningback was supposed to be a 1st rounder.He got hurt and ended up in the 4th so you never know.Quinn was a top 10 pick to remember?

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The question is "who has knocked him down", draft pundits, or NFL scouts? It seems illogical to think NFL scouts could have him rated a top 10 player one year, then rate him a 2nd round player the next year (after he had changed to a new coach and offensive systme and still had his best year in college.)

Draft pundits? The do it, but then they've never been known for logic.

That's not actually uncommon.  I've seen guys "projected" to go in the top 10 one year only to go lower the next year...

Matt Leinhart ring a bell?  He would have been the #1 overall pick one year but he decided to stay in school for another year and look what happened.

Personally,  I think some of this hs to do with Petirno and how he bolted...

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Sun Tzu 7 (3/18/2008)
The question is "who has knocked him down", draft pundits, or NFL scouts? It seems illogical to think NFL scouts could have him rated a top 10 player one year, then rate him a 2nd round player the next year (after he had changed to a new coach and offensive systme and still had his best year in college.)

Draft pundits? The do it, but then they've never been known for logic.

That's not actually uncommon.  I've seen guys "projected" to go in the top 10 one year only to go lower the next year...

Matt Leinhart ring a bell?  He would have been the #1 overall pick one year but he decided to stay in school for another year and look what happened.

Personally,  I think some of this hs to do with Petirno and how he bolted...

The thing is, there were other top-rated quarterbacks in that draft. This draft has no top-rated quarterbacks (even the people pimping Ryan are saying that this is a really weak draft for quarterbacks). Leinart was knocked down the board (and only to the tenth slot) by other players at his position. Brohm was knocked down the board by... what? He seems to be being punished for being successful and that doesn't make sense.

Direwolf

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bigduke633 (3/18/2008)

It's not a very good crop, and there's nothing like a can't-miss guy. How ironic. The four teams mostly likely to take Ryan high -- Miami, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore -- have been laboring at the position for different reasons. Miami's never been able to replace Dan Marino. Atlanta is still reeling from having its franchise quarterback KO'd in the Mike Vick-dogfighting case. Kansas City had a nice marriage with Trent Green 'til he got knocked silly early in 2006. And Baltimore's been looking for Mr. Goodbar since Johnny U. left town.

Mining for quarterbacks is a tough business. And whoever passes on Ryan will sweat out watching him over the next few years, needing Rolaids after every game he shines. If he does shine. That's the question everyone asks at this time of year about quarterbacks. You never know.

No the ironic thing is that this is a pretty solid class that has been poorly evaluated.

Matt Ryan the poster boy the quote on quote only sure thing/franchise QB in this draft is actually probably the biggest joke of a top 3 hyped pick ever at the QB position.

Meanwhile guys like Andre Woodson and Josh Johnson who this clown thinks are 4th-6th round picks along with guys like Brian Brohm and even Flacco have significantly more upside.

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