Once A Bird, Always A Bird

By Adam Caparell - April 26, 2008

NEW YORK - For the better part of the second half of the regular season, Matt Ryan was the consensus top quarterback in this year's draft class. But it took the Boston College signal caller a lot longer to realize it than most.

Sure, Ryan got plenty of reports about where he might slot in during the draft as he led the Eagles to the No. 2 ranking in the nation at one point, but he never paid much attention to them.

"I was never really focused on the draft or my draft stock while I was in college," Ryan said. "For me it was all about trying to go out there and trying to win an ACC Championship at Boston College."

BC came up short of that goal, but they still managed to have a pretty successful season. And once that season ended after the Champs Sports Bowl, Ryan finally came to the realization that he would be one of the top picks today. He just had no idea that he would end up in Atlanta where the Michael Vick disaster has thrust Ryan into a tough position.

Ryan's now the face of the franchise that has quickly fallen on hard times following Vick's jailing and Bobby Petrino's departure back to college. How will Ryan handle the pressure that's going to be put on his shoulders? Will he get into camp on time? Will he start right away? Will he be able to resurrect the Falcons?

"I can't worry about it," Ryan said. "I'm just really focused on trying to win, trying to get onto the field and getting the respect of my teammates."

Ryan will be learning a new offense for the third straight season when he finally gets the Falcons playbook. When Tom O'Brien left BC and Jeff Jagodzinski was hired in 2007, he changed things up and Ryan could have easily been discouraged. But he looked at the change as a challenge, one that would certainly bode well for his future NFL career.

"Going through the coaching staff change you learn that the one constant in football is change," Ryan said. "Major college football and the NFL are similar in that the constant is change. I think the transition of going from one staff to the other really helped out."

Ryan gives a lot of credit to Jagodzinski who taught him some new things during his senior season.

"I think coach Jags does a great job in terms of protections and I think I learned a lot about pass protection this year so I'm very grateful to have worked with him," Ryan said.

It's a good thing Ryan is used to change, because the transition from BC to Atlanta will be anything but mundane.

"The draft process is a long time from the end of the season to today," Ryan said. "It's just going to be nice to get into a routine, get down there and start preparing for the season."

A season that figures to resemble nothing like the one he just got done with.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 05:26 PM on April 26, 2008

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