DRAFT 2008: QUARTERBACKS

Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan is considered by many analysts the top-rated quarterback in the April 26-27 NFL Draft. As such, for several months he has been the subject of the accompanying pre-draft scrutiny and speculation.

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Ryan Expected by Many to be First Quarterback Chosen in 2008 NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS – Matt Ryan, like many in his position before him, has opted to not worry about that which he can't control.

Ryan, a senior quarterback from Boston College, is considered by many draft analysts the top-rated player at his position in the April 26-27 NFL Draft. And because he is the top-rated quarterback, for several months he has been the subject of the accompanying pre-draft scrutiny and speculation.

Will he be the No. 1 overall selection? Is he worthy of a Top 10 selection?

Will he slide lower in the first round?

The above are some of the most-heard questions around the 2008 NFL Draft, Colts.com's coverage of which begins with this story on the quarterback position, and Ryan has heard the questions, too. They are questions Ryan can't control.

And ones about which he said he won't much worry.

"It's exciting to be mentioned in that light, but for me, I just hope somebody gives me an opunity to go in and compete and help try to make an organization a winner," Ryan said recently. "It doesn't really matter what number pick that is, as long as someone gives me a chance."

Ryan, who emerged as many analysts' choice for the top available quarterback with a high-profile senior season, has drawn interest throughout the pre-draft process. He opted to run at the NFL Scouting Combine, then threw at his Pro Day in Chestnut Hill, Mass., on March 18.

It was one of the most-documented events of the NFL off-season, with 22 teams and 72 media members represented. Among those NFL head coaches attending was Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Herm Edwards, whose team holds the No. 5 overall selection.

"He's a good quarterback,'' Edwards said. "I think he understands the game, has a good arm to make the throws. He has good awareness in the pocket.

"He has won some games at the end, and the thing I've watched and liked about the guy is he has played some games where he started off kind of bad, but he found a way to come back and still win the game. That's important, because it's not always going to go your way at that

position.

"The players around him were good players . . . I don't know if they were great players, but he found a way to win games.''

Ryan not only has been linked to the Chiefs, it also has been speculated that he could be chosen as high as No. 1 overall in the draft by the Miami Dolphins. Many mock drafts have him slipping from the Top 10, while nearly as many have him being selected No. 3 overall by the Atlanta Falcons.

"It would be unbelievable," Ryan said of potentially being the No. 1 selection. "For me, it would be really fun to go play in Miami. It would be a great situation for a quarterback and it may end up working out."

The Falcons recently worked Ryan out privately at Boston College.

"He's an outstanding player who comes as advertised,'' Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith told the Boston Globe.

Ryan, who started six games in his first two seasons at BC, started on a full-time basis as a junior and senior, finishing his career having completed 807 of 1,347 passes for 9,313 yards and 56 touchdowns with 37 interceptions. He completed 388 of 654 passes for 4,507 yards and 31 touchdowns with 19 interceptions this past season, when the Eagles went 11-3, their highest victory total since 1940.

"Some of that (his interceptions total) is due to guys who have missed catches, and maybe him trying to throw into some windows he shouldn't have thrown them in, but for the most part, he has the ability to move the football team," Edwards said.

Said Ryan, "As a quarterback, you never want to turn the football over. We did that a good amount this year, but when you're aggressive with the football sometimes mistakes are going to happen. I thought we were very aggressive as a team this year and we ended up turning the football over, but at the same time we scored a lot of points and we were competitive and won a lot of games. Ultimately, I think that wins are the most significant stat. But no question about it. I've got to work on that, improve, turn the ball over less if you want to be a

successful quarterback in the NFL."

Ryan, who graduated BC in May of 2007 with a degree in communications, played this past season for Head Coach Jeff Jagodzinski, who spent the 2006 season as the offensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. He previously coached tight ends for Green Bay and offensive line in Atlanta.

"I think it definitely helps prepare you to make the transition from college to the NFL," Ryan said. "Coach Jagodzinski obviously worked with Green Bay and Atlanta. Even more so than the Xs and Os, he gives you an idea of what to expect in terms of preparation and how you should prepare, how to break down each day of the week, what you should be looking at in terms of film study.

"I really thought he did a good job with he and his staff, and I think that's something that will translate into the NFL."

How quickly Ryan translates into being an NFL starter is uncertain no matter where he is selected. Teams in recent years have varied their approach to developing quarterbacks, even those selected in the first round. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning never has missed a start since joining the team in 1998, whereas Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer -- also a perennial Pro Bowl selection – did not play in his first season.

JaMarcus Russell, the first overall selection by the Oakland Raiders in the 2007 NFL Draft, played sparingly as a rookie, starting the final game of the regular season. The NFL's other 2007 first-round quarterback, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brady Quinn, played as a reserve in the final regular-season game.

"There has been a bunch of different ways for quarterbacks to come into the league and have success," Ryan said. "I don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it. But in my opinion and what I'm going to be trying to do next year is go in and compete and try and win that starting job and make the decision as difficult as possible for the organization.

"But ultimately you have to respect their decision and do what's best for the team."

Breaking Down the Top Quarterbacks

As is typically the case, quarterback is one of the most analyzed position in the 2008 NFL Draft, with many speculating that only one quarterback – Matt Ryan of Boston College – will be selected in the first round. Brian Brohm, a prolific quarterback from Louisville, also could be selected in the first round, with some observers rating him close to or ahead of Ryan. In recent weeks, some have projected Brohm to be selected somewhere between Nos. 20 and 30 in Round One. Overall, the quarterback class is considered weak by some at the top of the draft, but some analysts believe as many as 6-to-8 could be selected in the first three rounds, including Chad Henne of Michigan, Joe Flacco of Delaware and Andre' Woodson of Kentucky. Flacco, according to some analysts, has excelled in individual workouts and could be a low first-round or early second-round selection.

Quarterbacks on the Colts' roster

Peyton Manning, 11th NFL season; Jim Sorgi, fifth NFL season; Josh Betts, first NFL season.

THE QUARTERBACKS

A look at the quarterback position in the 2008 NFL Draft. Rankings and projected rounds are based on several national draft publications and in no way reflect the opinions of Colts personnel.

Rank, Player, School, Ht., Wt., Projected Round

1, Matt Ryan, 6-5, 228, Boston College, 1

2, Brian Brohm, 6-3, 230, Louisville, 1-2

3, Chad Henne, 6-3, 235, Michigan, 2-3

4, Joe Flacco, 6-6, 236, Delaware, 2-3

5, Andre' Woodson, 6-5, 232, Kentucky, 2-3

6, Erik Ainge, 6-5, 225, Tennessee, 3-4

7, John Davi

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