The quarterback position is widely regarded as the most important in all of football. Just how far your team goes all depends on the competency of your field general.
So when the Atlanta Falcons took Boston College's Matt Ryan, widely regarded as the only "blue chip" quarterback available in the draft, with the third overall pick, it appeared the problem was solved. Not so fast.
While the pick is good in the sense that the team is moving on and putting a new face on the franchise over the shamed one of former star Michael Vick, there are risks involved with drafting a quarterback early in the first round. The Texans and Bengals know all about that.
Here are a few reasons why the Falcons should've gone in another direction:
No. 1: Offensive Line
The Falcons line is regarded as one of the worst in the NFL. The Falcons didn't do much to improve that line aside from adding USC OT Sam Baker at the tail end of the first round. Now, allow me to interject some common sense here. A quarterback cannot do his job if he's constantly on his back. It doesn't matter how talented the quarterback is, as David Carr showed in his tumultuous stay with the Texans.
The line in Atlanta is in no condition to keep Ryan on his feet as it is full of young, unproven talent and aging veterans. The Falcons had better hope that Ryan will take the hits and thrive because he's going to get hit a lot.
No. 2: Wide Receivers
This is another issue the Falcons have been battling. While the talent is certainly there in the form of Roddy White and Michael Jenkins, the production is not. Well, unless you count Joe Horn who is aging and has lost about six steps.
Jenkins and White have the natural ability to succeed but have shown a penchant for dropping catchable passes and losing concentration. Not good for a rookie quarterback who will be trying to build his confidence in a new league.
Another issue is the release of tight end Alge Crumpler. Crumpler was considered one of the better pass catching tight ends in the game and could've been a safety valve for the developing Ryan. Instead, Ben Hartsock will be on the field, mostly as a blocker.
No. 3: History
History shows that taking quarterbacks early in the first round is a very risky venture. Since 2000, only a handful of first round quarterbacks have thrived: Vick (for a short time, more so as a runner), Carson Palmer and Ben Roethlisberger. There have also been a few solid guys like Eli Manning, Phillip Rivers and Jason Campbell. But the first round is littered with busts like David Carr, J.P. Losman, Kyle Boller, Joey Harrington, Patrick Ramsey, etc.
Most of the latter quarterbacks walked into unfavorable situations and had their confidence destroyed. It's no wonder they failed.
In my opinion, the Falcons had three other viable options with the third pick: take either LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, take USC DT Sedrick Ellis or trade the pick to someone who wanted McFadden or Dorsey.
Ryan was a great player in college, but I just don't think a quarterback can build confidence and succeed while he's being plastered to the turf.
Time will be the judge. Let's hope Ryan isn't laid to rest in the NFL Draft Bust cemetery.
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