NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock has been a big supporter of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
When asked about the top quarterbacks taken in the last four drafts and Andrew Luck, the projected top QB selection for 2012 draft, Mayock had some interesting things to say about Ryan, who’s posted at 43-19 regular-season record to go with an 0-3 playoff mark.
The comparison group includes Ryan (No. 3 overall in 2008), Matthew Stafford (No. 1 overall in 2009), Sam Bradford (No. 1 overall in 2010), Cam Newton (No. 1 overall in 2011) and Luck.
“Matt Ryan needs to take the next step,” Mayock said. “To do that, he needs some offensive line help. Matt Ryan is kind of at point now where he needs to make that next step and win some playoff games and become that next-level quarterback.”
Mayock believes that Stafford and Bradford have displayed NFL talent, but must remain healthy. Stafford, the former Georgia standout, guided the Detroit Lions to the playoffs for the first time since 1999 last season.
“Cam Newton had a year that was mind boggling to me,” Mayock said. “They will continue to build around him. The question is how well NFL defenses will adapt to what Carolina did a year ago and will Cam Newton continue to work as hard as he needs to, to stay ahead of that curve.”
Luck is the son of former NFL quarterback Oliver Luck, who played at West Virginia and is now their athletic director. (The elder Luck was a pretty good high school basketball player, too. Saw him lead Cleveland St. Ignatius to the city title over the John Adams Rebels back in the day at old Public Hall.)
“When you throw Andrew Luck into that grouping, I think he falls — from an intellect and the whole passion for the game of football — somewhere in that kind of Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan mold,” Mayock said. “That’s how much the kid loves it.
“As far as ability, I don’t think he’s quite in the Peyton Manning mold. But I think he’s close. I think he’s got a little more ability than a Matt Ryan when he came out. But, I don’t put him up there as a once in a lifetime guy. I’ve never said that about him. I think he’s in the same category with a Bradford. . . I’m not sitting here telling you that I think he’s going to be Tom Brady or Peyton Manning.”
What about Newton?
“I would probably take him over Cam, yes,” Mayock said.
Luck is not expected to throw passes next week at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. He’ll likely wait until his Pro Day.
“He’s going to win the battle in the board rooms,” Mayock said. “He’s going to sit up with the teams and draw what he knows about the game of football and he will process (the) information from those team and spit it back at them. All of those top teams are going to come away saying ‘wow, I want that guy.’”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog