1. Matt Ryan. Where to begin? He was healthy for about one half of football, yet was the best quarterback in the conference and one of the best in the league. His decision making and toughness gave the offense a direction and dynamic quality that has been lacking under Bible. Despite the costly INT against Wake, I really think that game embodied many of Ryan’s special qualities. He kept drive after drive alive with his clutch throws. Despite being gimpy, he moved well in the pocket and scrambled for TD. His numbers were fantastic by TOB standards and should only get better next season. And he did without a game breaker at WR or RB. After the Clemson game, I said Matt Ryan was going to have to carry the team…fortunately he did. Now let’s hope he caps off his career with a huge year next season.
2. Josh Beekman. While I felt he had a better season last year, Beekman was still outstanding this year. His play wasn’t as consistent, but we asked him to do so much more. Beekman took snaps at two positions every game and filled in at Center for full games twice. He made this challenging transition seamless. He is probably the most agile linemen of the TOB era. I would have loved to see him work with Jags one season, but unfortunately he has used up all his eligibility. I wish Josh nothing but the best at the next level.
3. Gosder Cherilus. Cherilus was great this year. He dominated his opponents and played his position at the highest level. He was nearly perfect and I would have but him ahead of Matt Ryan on this list but for one thing…his penalties. It is such a shame. He really was excellent, but the stupid false starts and the occasional holding calls killed his grading. If he comes back and if he fixes his focus, Gosder could be the best lineman in the country.