NFL Draft: FBS Bias Gets Matt Ryan Picked Before Joe Flacco

Matt GardSenior Analyst IMay 1, 2008

I’m very glad that the NFL Draft has come to a conclusion for this year.

Not because I know exactly what my Indianapolis Colts have to work with next season, but because I can finally turn on ESPN without hearing from Mel Kiper and Todd McShay.

It’s not that I disagreed with everything they had to say. On the contrary, I enjoyed most of their analysis, but the one thing I couldn’t stand was seeing Matt Ryan at number one on both of their quarterback lists along with every other “expert” in America.

Even more than that, McShay saying that the Baltimore Ravens taking Joe Flacco in the first round was a “reach,” angered me to no end.

Flacco was the best quarterback in the draft. The only competition Ryan has proven he can beat Flacco in is the one for most generic name.

The 6’6”, 230-pound Flacco was underrated and should’ve been taken third overall by the Atlanta Falcons. The Ravens have a gem of a player to end their quarterback woes.

In their senior seasons, Flacco had a better completion percentage and a better rating than Ryan. Ryan threw 19 interceptions over the course of the season while Flacco threw a grand total of five.

Ryan was better than Flacco in some statistical aspects. The Boston College Eagle threw for more yards and more touchdowns than Flacco. However, ESPN’s College Football Challenge was a showcase of Flacco’s supremacy.

He won two of three competitions at the College Football Challenge including the the Taco Bell Quarterback Scramble and the Long Distance Throw, where he accurately threw the ball 74 yards, 12 longer than Ryan’s best throw.

“I was just disappointed that I couldn’t get a spiral,” Flacco told ESPN. “If I got a spiral I was trying to get it close up to 80 (yards).

“I hope they already know that from game film,” Flacco said of NFL scouts knowing that he has the ability to hang with the rest of the quarterbacks in the draft class.

Apparently those NFL scouts haven’t seen the same things out of Flacco that I’m seeing.

Or maybe they are blinded by the fact that Flacco, of the University of Delaware, played FCS football while Ryan played in the much-respected Atlantic Coast Conference.

The truth, though, is that Flacco has proven he can compete with, and beat, tough competition. Just ask the 8-5 Navy Midshipmen who fell 59-52 to Flacco’s Blue Hens. In that game, Flacco threw for four touchdowns and a season-high 434 yards on 30 completions, while earning a rating of 194.28.

The Blue Hens also reached the FCS National Championship before losing to Appalachian State 49-21. Flacco had 334 yards and a touchdown against the Mountaineers, who were perhaps better known for beating the Michigan Wolverines earlier in the year.

The NFL has had a history of great players drafted out of the FCS (previously Division I-AA). Do Howie Long and Jerry Rice ring a bell? Or how about Brandon Jacobs, who was a big factor in the New York Giants' quest for the Lombardi Trophy?

Flacco will be no different. The Ravens have a class ‘A’ prospect on their hands.