Matt Ryan era begins, Michael Vick chisels prison wall with rock hammer

While Vick debates a future in the newly formed United Football League from the pokey, the convicted puppy pugilist's former employer, the Atlanta Falcons, have reportedly entered a new era.

Per' s Don Banks, Dirty Birds GM Thomas Dimitroff and the overhauled Atlanta coaching staff are leaning toward starting top pick Matt Ryan over Chris Redman Week 1 versus Detroit. Dimitroff, who once worked for the Patriots, has already compared Ryan to Mr. Giselle Bundchen. And you thought the Noise was a master of hyperbole:

"He has a nice feel for sliding around in the pocket, with the ability to feel the pressure and get away from it," Dimitrioff told me [Banks], likening it to that trademark part of Tom Brady's game in New England. "You have to like the way he stands tall in the pocket and the poise he already shows back there."

In his first preseason game against Jacksonville's A-team defense, the No. 3 overall pick shined, completing 9-of-13 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, including a 25-yard scoring strike to Roddy White. Delivering the ball crisply and accurately, Ryan showed the composure of a 10-year vet (Check out the highlights here). Even Michael Turner boasted about the rookie's initial effort, remarking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

"He impressed me. It wasn't like he was playing against a vanilla defense with everybody just sitting back and letting him pick them apart. They were blitzing. They were bringing everything they could at him. He read it well, sat in the pocket and was letting it rip."

The Boston College product unquestionably has the skill set of a future Pro Bowler. His skyward 6-foot-5 frame, excellent footwork, smooth delivery and terrific downfield touch are sensational attributes. But he's a rookie. And in the world of virtual pigskin rookie quarterbacks are largely ineffective. This century Vince Young is the only first-year signal barker that has averaged at least 17.0 fantasy points per game in his inaugural campaign. Hell, Peyton Manning only netted 16.7 fantasy points per game in 1998.

Ryan could conceivably toss 18-22 touchdowns and healthy yardage totals given Atlanta's pliable defense. But anticipate at least 20 picks. Best case scenario: he matches Jon Kitna's output from a season ago.

Move him up draft boards in very deep leagues and formats that require two starting quarterbacks. However, in traditional 12-teamers, he's a late-round flyer similar to Tarvaris Jackson, JaMarcus Russell and super backup Kurt Warner.

On a side note, we can safely assume White won't scribble any Ryan advertisements under his pads this year.

Although they showcased a bubbling chemistry against the Jags, the young gun's inconsistencies will prove maddening at times, limiting White's scoring potential. Consider him more of a mid-tiered No. 3, not a No. 2. At this point, Jerricho Cotchery (Y! ADP: 86.5), Santana Moss (94.2) and Nate Burleson (109.6) are more attractive options.


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