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Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Updated: November 22, 8:20 AM ET
Flacco or Ryan: Which rookie quarterback would you rather have?

By Scouts Inc.
ESPN.com

There is no doubt that the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons hit home runs by drafting quarterbacks in the first round. Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan have proven that a team can win with a rookie signal-caller, but which one would you rather have? Scouts Inc. breaks down both quarterbacks using the basic scouting categories.

Rookie QB Tale of the Tape
Joe Flacco
Matt Ryan
Edge
Arm strength: Flacco has very rare, elite arm strength and can make any throw asked of him. Flacco can throw deep without setting his feet, and his passes will cut through the harsh weather conditions that he is soon to face. The only other young quarterbacks in his class right now are Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell and Broncos QB Jay Cutler in terms of pure arm strength. Flacco will break his share of fingers during his career. Ryan has above-average arm strength for the position. He can make all the throws required of him. He zips the ball into the deep outs and deep curls. Flacco might have better pure arm strength if you just drop back and chuck it down the field, but in terms of arm strength as it relates to an offensive system, Ryan's is very good.

Joe Flacco
Flacco
Accuracy: The Ravens did not ask Flacco to stretch the field very much at the beginning of the season, so his
62 percent completion percentage is a bit inflated. But that is still a very respectable number for a rookie signal-caller who doesn't have a top-notch stable of pass-catchers at his disposal. He has shown the ability to put the ball on the money even when throwing from a compromising position, and that accuracy should be very exciting for Ravens fans.
Ryan has completed 59.7 percent of his passes through 10 games, but we believe Ryan is the more accurate quarterback. Game management is the key, and there is no question that the Falcons ask Ryan to do more on offense. Although we would like to see his completion percentage closer to 65, he is a rookie who is learning on the go. He has very good touch on his deep ball and is learning each week how to lead receivers or fit his passes into tight spots in the intermediate passing game. His accuracy eventually will be a strong suit.
Matt Ryan
Ryan
Decision-making: Flacco has left some plays on the field, but overall, he isn't gun-shy. He threw two interceptions against the Giants in Week 11, but before that, he went four games without an interception. The Ravens trust Flacco to distribute the ball. He has improved in that area but has been known to rely too much on WR Derrick Mason at times. However, Baltimore has limited playmakers for its rookie to throw to. Flacco has thrown one more interception than touchdown, but Ryan's touchdown-to-interception ratio is nearly 2-1. Both quarterbacks' decision-making abilities are improving, and both are better in this area when being backed up by a solid run game. Ryan is gaining confidence with every pass he completes. His decision-making is comparable to that of a veteran No. 1 quarterback.
Matt Ryan
Ryan
Mobility: Flacco can run and make plays with his feet, although he can look awkward doing so. He is a very long strider and lumbers a bit, but he eats up yardage at a reasonable rate when he tucks the ball and takes off. He is improving within the confines of the pocket, but he still has work to do feeling pressure, sidestepping the rush or moving to buy himself time. Flacco is the more mobile quarterback in terms of running the football because Ryan won't win many footraces. However, mobility is not all about running for first downs. Mobility also is about staying alive in the pocket. Although Ryan has made a few more running attempts, he has been sacked fewer times. Ryan understands where pressure is coming from as well as how and where to step up in the pocket. He shows the foot quickness needed to buy time and deliver the ball with a solid strike while avoiding the rush.
Joe Flacco
Flacco
Poise/Leadership: Flacco had some deer-in-the-headlights looks early in the season, but he has adapted very quickly to the game at this level. He is a poised and grounded young man who seems to be gaining the confidence of his teammates. He isn't a gunslinger, but he also isn't fearful of taking a big hit to complete the pass. This goes a long way with a veteran-dominated team such as the Ravens. The Falcons are 6-4 and in playoff contention, thanks to Ryan's leadership. Their home win versus Chicago was a prime example of the type of poise this young gun quarterback has developed. It is something you can't teach. You are born either to lead or to follow, and Ryan was born to lead. His Atlanta teammates have done an outstanding job of following his lead.
Matt Ryan
Ryan
Upside: This rookie is dripping with upside. Physically, he has it all, and he also is a very smart young man. He has grasped what has been taught to him at a very rapid pace, especially considering he was playing at the University of Delaware this time last year. There is potential for greatness here. Flacco and Ryan have a ton of upside, but Ryan's might be a little better at this point because he has a better supporting cast. Ryan has a No. 1 receiver in Roddy White with whom to build a long-term relationship, but Flacco does not. Both will be solid No. 1 quarterbacks, but Ryan will be a consummate Pro Bowler and All-Pro.
Matt Ryan
Ryan

Scouts Inc. watches games, breaks down film and studies football from all angles for ESPN.com.