As far as performance is concerned, quarterbacks age a lot differently than most football players. Running backs on the wrong side of 30 are expected to endure a sharp decline. Many linemen begin to look like shells of their former selves when they play a decade or more in the NFL.
Plenty of QBs, however, continue to improve as they get old, which is why Matt Ryan's career year at 31 wasn't surprising. With the right system, the right supporting cast and right amount of experience, Atlanta's signal caller put up extraordinary numbers in 2016, earning the league's Most Valuable Player award.
In the process, Ryan put himself in rare company as a quarterback who won MVP and started in a Super Bowl. And, as Football Outsiders' Scott Kacsmar noted on Twitter, most MVP QBs who get to the Super Bowl make the Hall of Fame.
Ryan is undoubtedly near the top of his group in the above table, but what about the one below, the Hall of Fame locks? Let's take a look at how his first nine years stack up to the QBs in that section, with help from Pro Football Reference. (Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers and Bart Starr were removed due to a lack of games played.)
Ryan appeared in more games than all but one player on the list, which skews the perception of raw numbers like total passing yards. Still, his completion percentage ranks first, and his passer rating is higher than all of these quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning.
The kid from Boston College has a long way to go to become a Hall of Fame-worthy talent, but it's safe to say he's on the right track.