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Be The GM: Ryan Vs. Beason
Authored by Andrew Perna - 17th August, 2009 - 9:11 am

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We're ready to jump into another six matchups this week after taking a day off from the fun on Sunday. There are still ten matchups left in the first round, including today's battle between a pair of NFC South rivals.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan faces off against Panthers linebacker Jon Beason in a tilt between dueling 24-year-olds.

Ryan has the height, but Beason has the weight. Both helped lead their teams to the playoffs last season, but only one will advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Why Ryan Is A Franchise Player

Coming out of Boston College we knew "Matty Ice" had the skills to be a productive NFL quarterback. We didn't know, however, that he'd be ready immediately. Ryan went 9-for-13 with 161 yards, one touchdown and a 137.0 quarterback rating in his first-ever professional game.

He went on to post 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in his rookie season, and even putting in a respectable performance in his playoff debut. He was 26-for-40 with 199 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions in Atlanta's 30-24 loss to Arizona on Wild Card weekend.

In actuality, he had just two poor games in 2008 and both came against the Buccaneers. He combined to go 28-for-56 with 364 yards and four interceptions in Weeks 2 and 15 against Tampa Bay.

Ryan showed the mental strength needed to play quarterback in the NFL last season and flashed a strong, accurate arm as well. He's a breath of fresh air for the Falcons after a few seasons of turmoil at the position.

Why Beason Is A Franchise Player

Beason may not be a household name, but his 278 tackles over the last two seasons reveal the kind of impact he can have on a game. In addition to making plays no matter where they lead, the linebacker also grabbed three interceptions in 2008 after tallying just one the year prior as a rookie.

Opponents rarely get out of his grasp and he almost never looks lost on the field. He's considered undersized for a linebacker, which is why he has yet to record a sack and most of his tackles come on plays far from the line of scrimmage and away from the bruising lineman that are able to hold him off.

Still, he showed respectable ability when dropping back last season, as the three interceptions show. As the middle linebacker he helped anchor Carolina's defense last season. They were 12th in terms of points allowed, but 18th in yardage.

The Panthers will improve if Beason does as well.

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Andrew Perna is Deputy Editor of RealGM.com and co-host of RealGM's Radio Show. Please feel free to contact him with comments or questions via e-mail: Andrew.Perna@RealGM.com