The case for Matt Ryan

With the eighth pick of the NFL Draft, the Baltimore Ravens select… This is the million dollar question of the moment. Draft pundits everywhere have different opinions on the player who will don the purple and black, but one clearly stands out above the others. And the one player is Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan.

Ever since the Ravens arrived in Baltimore, quality at one position has eluded the team - quarterback. The team has gone through the likes of veterans on their last legs or seemingly capable quarterbacks whose talent didn't materialize. Either way, it has not worked out and that needs to change if the franchise is ever to consistently compete.

Enter Ryan. The 6'5 224 pound QB has prototypical size, a good arm that can make every throw, good pocket awareness and top intangibles.

His weaknesses are that he is not very mobile and he throws too many interceptions.

Earlier this month, Ravens Coach John Harbaugh praised Ryan at the owners' meetings.

"Specifically, Matt Ryan, he finds a way to win in the fourth quarter," said Harbaugh. "He's a big-time competitor. He's an accurate passer, he's big, he can scramble. He's smart. He gives his receivers a chance."

None of today's great quarterbacks, like Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Carson Palmer, is especially mobile, but they can manipulate the pocket which is exactly what Ryan does. Many of Ryan's interceptions are a result of forcing too many passes, but he also lacked top talent around him and his receivers didn't create much separation. This is easily correctable.

Ryan has a special quality about him that elevates him above the rest of the quarterbacks and makes him an elite prospect – some experts call this the "it" factor.

When a play breaks down, Ryan can make something out of nothing, just as Brett Favre did throughout his career.

Ryan knows how to get it done in the fourth quarter and on the road like he did in comebacks against Virginia Tech and Clemson. He carried a team with average talent and made them into a title contender for a majority of the college season. Lastly, he is a student of the game and will be in the film room as much as Manning. He always strives to be better.

Harbaugh downplayed Ryan's interceptions and said his future is bright.

"A lot of people are worried about his interceptions, but a lot of that is giving his receivers a chance to make plays, too," said Harbaugh. "He's going to be a really good quarterback in this league."

This is exactly why the Ravens have to get Ryan by almost any means necessary. If he falls past three, I would even suggest moving up to get him. The Ravens' first round pick coupled with the second round pick would be a prime bargaining chip to move up to the fourth or fifth pick.
Some people might say that this is too much, but having a franchise quarterback is invaluable and far exceeds what the Ravens could get in round two.

Fans always talk about why the Ravens can't be good every year like the New England Patriots or Indianapolis Colts and that's because the team doesn't have a good quarterback. The difference between good franchises and great franchises is legendary quarterbacks. Ryan has every quality that one looks for in a QB and he can be the face of the franchise for the next ten years.

The Ravens need Matt Ryan.

Hank Nathan is a guest columnist for Ravens Insider.

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