All eyes on Ryan (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday March 18, 2008 8:14PM; Updated: Wednesday March 19, 2008 12:45PM
While there was lots of tea-leaf reading going on here in regards to who attended for which teams, and who didn't show, don't read too much into it at this point in regards to the real level of interest in Ryan. True, both No. 1 Miami and No. 3 Atlanta didn't have large contingents on hand. The Dolphins sent director of college scouting Chris Grier and quarterbacks coach David Lee, while the Falcons had Snead and their director of college scouting Phil Emery looking on.
But a source close to the situation told me Ryan will conduct private workouts for at least five teams, all of whom pick in the draft's top eight: No. 1 Miami, No. 3 Atlanta, No. 5 Kansas City, the No. 6 Jets, and No. 8 Baltimore. One of those five is going to come away with Ryan, because the top eight's other three members -- No. 2 St. Louis, No. 4 Oakland and No. 7 New England -- aren't in the market for starting quarterbacks.
Just my instincts at this point, but I believe the Falcons may not think Ryan's their guy just yet, which probably means the Chiefs are in the best position to land him. Stay tuned (as I know you will).
Judging strictly from the numbers, the No. 5 Chiefs had the biggest collection of heavy hitters at the workout, with their three-man contingent including almost every set of eyes in the organization that you'd want eyeballing a potential franchise quarterback, with the possible exception of the team owner. The Chiefs had their GM (Peterson), their head coach (Edwards), and their offensive coordinator (Gailey) in attendance.
The Chiefs also need a starting offensive tackle, and Boston College's Gosder Cherilus was here working out in an attempt to keep his name in the running for being taken in the middle to final third of the first round. But when you looked over and saw Edwards sitting on the turf chatting up Ryan before he threw, and then watched as Ryan's agent, Tom Condon, stood with Peterson for a good bit of the afternoon, you quickly realized it might not be the best of days to be Chiefs incumbent starting quarterback Brodie Croyle.
Edwards gave Ryan a decent enough review, but mentioned at least three times that he thought the BC quarterback "pressed'' on some of his throws, trying to throw the ball too hard. Some of Ryan's passes did wobble considerably, although most arrived quickly enough and found their receivers in stride.
"He pressed some on some throws, but that's generally what happens when you have the media there," Edwards said. "The thing this guy has is his ability to win. (When I went over and talked with him), I was trying to relax him. He's been waiting around since 10 o'clock this morning, trying to throw. I told him to just go out there and throw the ball and have some fun.
"(Today was) in shorts, there's no (pass) rush, and he knows where he's throwing the ball. Which is part of it. But the guy has a good enough arm, he's smart enough, and he has good poise in games. He has all the intangibles a quarterback needs to win games. With him, if he has the ball in his hands at the end of the game, you have a chance to win.''
Edwards certainly gave off the vibes of a head coach who's looking for his next franchise quarterback. After all, he was the only member of the headset crowd in attendance.
"That's the one thing about the draft, everybody is playing poker right now,'' Edwards said. "We're all playing poker, and you keep your poker face on until it's your turn to pick.''
While the No. 13 Carolina Panthers had a workout-high five staffers in attendance, don't make the mistake of believing they're hot on Ryan's trail. Carolina's contingent included Hurney, Davidson and director of college scouting Don Gregory. But the Panthers' heavy turnout no doubt had more to do with Cherilus than it did Ryan.
The Panthers are in the market for an offensive tackle because they're not optimistic about signing their starting left tackle, Jordan Gross, to a long-term deal after franchising him this year. Cherilus is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the second round, which puts him very much on Carolina's radar screen.
The Panthers are said to have fallen in love with Boise State offensive tackle Ryan Clady, who could go as high as fifth overall to Kansas City. Carolina is rumored to be at least open to the idea of trading into the top 10 to have a shot at Clady. Carolina is not thought to be after Ryan, given that the Panthers probably need to return to the playoffs in 2008 in order to ensure the continued employment of both head coach John Fox and Hurney. It's win-now time in Carolina, and that's not the year you draft a franchise quarterback.
One of the more interesting takes I heard Tuesday came from one club's college scouting director who would have liked to seen more throws from Ryan than the pre-determined 52-pass workout.
"A lot of times you get to ask a kid to do things for you and he's going to do them,'' the college scouting director said. "But this was an orchestrated workout. We didn't run the workout. Boston College did. We didn't get to ask what we wanted to see. We weren't allowed to have input. It was a little orchestrated, like watching a play unfold. That's not the first time we've seen that. Condon does that with his clients. But typically you leave that kind of workout wanting to see more, with a variety of more throws.''
The college scouting director went on to say that last week his team worked out a quarterback prospect and had him make about 120 throws during the session. "That's two and a half times more than we got to see Tuesday from Ryan,'' he said. "But the throws he made were good.''
Later in our conversation, that same college scouting director had one more kudo to toss Ryan's way, and it's a sentiment that has been heard elsewhere within the league:
"Those Boston College receivers that he was throwing to, there's not a lot of talent there,'' he said. "It tells me that Matt Ryan must be a pretty impressive leader, a pretty impressive kid to have won 11 games this year with some mediocre talent around him. And that's taking into account those receivers and those linemen. They weren't much. To win 11 games in the ACC, which is a pretty good league, he must be a pretty good kid and a pretty good quarterback.''