Matt Ryan (Patrick Collard/AP)
Matt Ryan is under the microscope. He better get used to it. Ranked the No. 1 quarterback in the 2008 draft, Ryan's game is being evaluated closely -- as a likely $50 million investment might expect.
Matt Ryan had discussions with Dolphins decision-maker Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano, but teams who didn't sit down with Ryan won't get a chance to learn much more about him this week at the Scouting Combine.
"I just hope somebody gives me an opportunity to go in and compete and help try to make an organization a winner," Ryan said. "It doesn't really matter what number pick that is, as long as someone gives me a chance."
Ryan has opted to run the 40-yard dash with the other quarterbacks invited to the Combine. But he'll save his passing exhibition for a made-for-comfort Pro Day in the Boston College practice bubble at Chestnut Hill, Mass., March 18. He also declined a chance to take part in the Senior Bowl in January.
Ryan projects as the only sure first-round pick among quarterbacks in April's draft.
"He's a good quarterback," said Herman Edwards, whose Chiefs own the No. 5 pick. "The players around him were good players. I don't know if they were great players. And they found a way to win games."
Ryan might be worth the top overall pick, and not just in terms of dollars.
Being the first quarterback off the board brings financial guarantees, but no certainty of production, wins or any return on the monetary leap of faith. With a reason to be gun shy, teams might put fewer chips on the table for a middle-round prospect with less sparkle.
"I think there could be a lot of lead changes throughout the group, so to speak," said Texans head coach Gary Kubiak on the quarterback pecking order. "It all depends on the next two months and how these kids do, how they handle this weekend, how they handle their workouts."
NFLDraftScout.com ranks Brian Brohm of Louisville and Michigan's Chad Henne, both of whom bring a wealth of experience, first-round worthy quarterbacks. Andre' Woodson (Kentucky), Joe Flacco (Delaware) and Southern California's John David Booty are the top players in the third-round range.
Flacco is trying to push himself into the first round just one year after he admits to just "trying to be a draft pick, period." Asked why he transferred from Pittsburgh early in his career to be a Fighting Blue Hen, he simply said, "I didn't want to leave my playing time to chance."
He's also not concerned about being from a smaller school, as he believes "if you can play, you can play" and that at any level "there are open guys, and there are covered guys" and it's the quarterback's job to find them.
People may assume Flacco's huge frame makes him a statue in the backfield, but he's out to prove that just "because I'm 6-6 and 236 pounds doesn't mean I can't move. I like to think that I'm a pretty good athlete and I'm out to show that."
Flacco worked out with former NFL quarterback Scott Brunner before the draft. "He's a guy that I really listen to because he's been here before," Flacco said. "He went through a handful of years in the NFL and had that experience, so anything I can take from him is good."
NFLDraftScout.com Senior Writer Howard Balzer and Senior Analyst Chad Reuter contributed to this report.