INDIANAPOLIS — Overhearing an announcement that the Atlanta Falcons had called tails and won a coin flip to secure the third pick in the NFL draft, Matt Ryan interjected, "Tails never fails."
Ryan had reason to care about how that coin landed. His future could be influenced by the outcome of the toss, which broke a tie among the Falcons, Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs.
The former Boston College star, widely considered the best quarterback and one of the top prospects in the draft, knows the Falcons may be looking for a QB. The player they thought would hold the position for years, Michael Vick, is serving a 23-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to federal charges in a dogfighting operation.
Ryan sounded as though he was lobbying to be picked by the Falcons on Friday at the NFL scouting combine.
"It’s a great city," Ryan said. "(Owner) Arthur Blank has done a great job, I think, in Atlanta. He’s made a strong commitment to the city with everything that’s gone on in the past year and has done it with class. I’ve got a lot of respect for that organization."
As if joining any franchise as a highly drafted quarterback isn’t hard enough, a spot with a club trying to rescue its image would carry a unique set of challenges.
"I certainly think that I could help," Ryan said. "Community is something that’s been important to me. It was important to me while I was at Boston College. I think I’d be a good fit."
Billy Devaney, the St. Louis Rams’ new executive vice president of player personnel, evaluated Ryan while scouting quarterbacks in his previous job as the Falcons’ assistant general manager.
"I like everything about the guy," Devaney said. "The intangibles, everything it takes to play the position, off the field, the leadership, the intelligence, being a team guy — he’s got it."
The Miami Dolphins hold the first pick in the draft. Ryan said he has spoken briefly with general manager Jeff Ireland and coach Tony Sparano.
He had to concede that he wasn’t always a fan of Miami’s new executive vice president of football operations, Bill Parcells.
"He was with the Giants; I always grew up an Eagles fan," said Ryan, who hails from Exton, Pa. "He was with the Cowboys, as well. Those were kind of the two teams I didn’t like growing up."
Ryan will run the 40-yard dash at the combine but will wait until Boston College’s Pro Day on March 18 to throw for scouts.
He believes passing to receivers he’s familiar with will more accurately represent his skills.
As he readies for the transition to the pros, Ryan benefits from the guidance of his coach this past season, Jeff Jagodzinski, who was an NFL assistant before taking over at BC.
"Even more so than the X’s and O’s," Ryan said, "I think he gives you an idea of what to expect in terms of preparation, how to break down each day of the week in terms of what you should be looking at in terms of film study."