Aug 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) drops back to pass in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Rankings: No. 5

Every two days, Rishi Pochiraju will reveal a quarterback on his list of quarterback rankings. Each quarterback will receive a grade out of 50 – 10 points for each category. See his page for earlier ranked quarterbacks. Up next: number 5.

#5. Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons

The 2012 season was Matt Ryan’s best as a pro, topping almost every statistical category from the previous four years of his career.

He has been fortunate to have a supporting cast that includes Julio Jones, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, a solid offensive line, and a first-class front office, but much of the credit goes to Ryan. Any great receiver needs a quarterback to succeed. Just look what’s been happening in Arizona with Larry Fitzgerald not having even an average guy under center for the last three years.

Ryan walked into a tough situation in Atlanta, attempting to fill the void of Michael Vick. All he’s done is proven that he is an elite quarterback.

Physical traits and athleticism

He isn’t speedy like Colin Kaepernick and he isn’t big and ridiculously tall like Joe Flacco. But Ryan has everything a coach and a general manager look for in a quarterback in terms of physical stature – he stands tall in the pocket, helped by a 6-4 frame, and his good footwork inside and outside the pocket provide good mobility and occasional flashes of excellent athletic ability. Grade: 8/10

Arm talent

When you have receivers like Julio Jones and Roddy White, your quarterback must be able to stretch the field. Matt Ryan can do just that. His arm strength has been constantly improving since college and his deep ball is paralleled by only a few in the league. His arm isn’t as strong as, perhaps, the arm of Aaron Rodgers, but it’s enough to hit Jones and White downfield. Grade: 8.5/10

Mechanics

Ryan’s mechanics were a strong point coming out of Boston College five years ago. His weight transfer and balance are excellent. This strong balance allows him to throw accurately on the run. His good footwork helps with moving around the pocket, and, if necessary, escaping it. Grade: 9/10

Mental make-up

Ryan’s mental game is what helps him compensate for a lack of elite speed to evade pass rushers. He throws recognizes blitzes and throws hot instead of running. He’s a pocket quarterback, and does everything a pocket quarterback does. He is stellar at reading defenses – he’ll burn the opposing 11 if that unit tries to pull something over his nose. Grade: 9.5/10

Intangibles

Ryan is an elite quarterback. He stepped into a tough scenario when Atlanta seemed to be down in the ashes after the Michael Vick situation and did a tremendous job. He was one of the centerpieces of a franchise that seemed to be in a rebuilding year and had a year just the opposite from that, making the playoffs in Ryan’s rookie season. Grade: 9/10

Overall impression

Matt Ryan is one of the game’s top-tier signal-callers. Although he is aided by a superior supporting cast, he has a lot on his shoulders. After falling 10 yards short of the Super Bowl last season, Ryan looks to lead a Falcons team to New York in February. Overall Grade: 44.5/50

Tags: Atlanta Falcons Falcons FanSided Julio Jones Matt Ryan NFL Roddy White Tony Gonzalez

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