Matt Ryan Was Almost a Raven

Flashback Friday Matt Ryan Was Almost a Raven

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You may recall that the Ravens, driven by owner Steve Bisciotti’s desire to land a franchise quarterback, nearly moved up in the 2008 NFL Draft to take quarterback Matt Ryan. The move would have been costly. The picks that Ozzie Newsome was reportedly willing to part with turned into Ray Rice, Tom Zbikowski and Lardarius Webb.

Oh and then there was this guy from Delaware named Flacco. Here’s a look back at an article published on April 27,2008… ~ Tony Lombardi


When it came time to pull the trigger near the top of the draft board, the St. Louis Rams stuck to their guns and selected defensive end Chris Long instead of accepting a package of picks from Baltimore to move to the eighth slot.

This decision by the Rams brass will be a pivotal review point in NFL draft history for both franchises.

According to SI’s Peter King, Baltimore general manager Ozzie Newsome laid out a trade offer to St. Louis a day before the draft that included the Ravens’ first-, second- and fourth-round picks, and a third-rounder in 2009 for the second overall selection. The St. Louis front office politely declined the trade and wrote Long’s name on its draft card.

Had the Rams agreed to move down, the Ravens would have used the No.2 choice on Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan.

Instead, Baltimore kept the picks and added ten new players to its roster. It is too soon to tell, but as of today, the organization should be glad that the Rams declined their offer.

Unless Matt Ryan turns into a franchise quarterback (which some personnel people in the Owings Mills complex believe he will), the non-trade could go down as one of the best moves the team has ever made, or should I say never made?

Mortgaging the future for one player is never a wise choice unless a team is good enough to withstand the loss of multiple draft choices. The Ravens are not one of those teams. In fact, the Ravens needed players badly at many positions.

Even if Ryan becomes a blue-chip player, the sting of losing out on him would be lessened if Joe Flacco (selected at No.18) turns into a solid quarterback in his own right.

Flacco has the tools to be better than Ryan. He has a slightly stronger arm, better touch and an overall bigger upside.

However, Ryan has the intangibles. He has made key plays when he needed to in order to help his team win. Ryan is the type of quarterback who will command the huddle and garner the respect of his teammates. It is questionable if Flacco brings the same degree of leadership to the table.

While Ryan may not have the potential to be as proficient a passer as Flacco could be, there is a better chance that he will be a more stable player. Ryan has less upside, but the prevailing notion is that he will at least be a middle-of-the-pack starting signal caller in the league.

Meanwhile, Flacco has the chance to be special. His delivery is picture perfect. He has the arm and the accuracy to place a deep ball wherever he wants to. He can throw it soft or he can throw it hard.

But if Flacco doesn’t clean up his choppy footwork, he could struggle to avoid the pass rush at the pro level. If he doesn’t adjust to playing against more talented defenders than he faced at the I-AA level at Delaware, he could turn into a bust.

However, as much as Flacco may be a more boom or bust player than Ryan, the front office directors in Baltimore can sleep better at night knowing that if Flacco flames out, they won’t lose as much in the long run as they would have potentially lost if Ryan didn’t turn out to be the one.

The Ravens traded away pick No.125 to Oakland in exchange for cornerback Fabian Washington.
The move could turn out to be a good one, if Washington is able to shake off the cobwebs after being benched last season in Oakland.

As Newsome pointed out, Washington is a better player right now than a prospect who the Ravens might have selected on day two. He is still young enough to bounce back from a forgettable year in which he was picked on repeatedly on the back end.

Washington is a man-to-man cover corner with speed and a smooth stride. He will likely be in the mix as nickel, lining up outside on third-down, while Samari Rolle would move inside to man the slot.

It will be interesting to see how Tavares Gooden, a linebacker who was chosen by Baltimore in the third-round, fits within Rex Ryan’s defensive scheme.

Gooden has the skills to play at any one of the three linebacker positions. Given that the Ravens require their linebackers to handle multiple defensive roles, Gooden should be able to make a seamless transition.

The beauty of this pick is that it gives the team a safety net if it is unable to re-sign either Ray Lewis or Bart Scott following the ‘08 season. It is probable that Lewis will be brought back, but Scott’s days may be numbered if he doesn’t put together a more productive year.

Gooden joins an already deep group of backers. Between Gooden, Prescott Burgess, Antwan Barnes and Edgar Jones, the Ravens have a new wave of explosive, athletic linebackers that could be outstanding in a year or so.

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Dev Panchwagh

About Dev Panchwagh

Dev Panchwagh is a versatile analyst who breaks down the Xs and Os of the game and has been a columnist/analyst for since the summer of 2004. In his regular season column Battle Plans, Dev highlights the Ravens’ keys to success against each upcoming opponent.

Dev started modestly as a sports journalist, but his contributions to sports talk radio were noticed, leading to duties as a regular columnist for the network before joining RSR.  It would be very difficult to find his rare combination of youthfulness, knowledge and insight in all facets of football anywhere else.  Fortunately, Dev brings it here each and every week. 

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