If you are reading this site there is a really good chance that you are planning on watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, but just in case you are on the fence for some reason let me give you another reason to watch: Patriots cornerback, Logan Ryan. Ryan is the lesser known half of one of the best corner tandems in the NFL. His partnership with Super Bowl XLIX star, Malcolm Butler, has helped the Pats finish with the best scoring defense in the league during the regular season allowing just 15.7 points per game. Additionally, the Patriots finished 5th in the NFL in opponent passer rating and 6th in opponent yards per pass attempt which show how effective this secondary was for them all season. Ryan is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in March and is likely to be among the top choices available to help repair the Titans worst position. So let’s take some time to get to know Logan Ryan before we watch him on Sunday.
- Age: 25
- Height: 5’-11”
- Weight: 195 lbs
- College: Rutgers
- Experience: 4 years
- Drafted in 3rd round (#83 overall) of 2013 NFL draft by New England
Dont'a Hightower Career Stats.csv
|2016||New England Patriots||13||65||2.5||1||2||--|
|2015||New England Patriots||12||61||3.5||--||2||--|
|2014||New England Patriots||12||89||6||--||2||--|
|2013||New England Patriots||16||97||1||--||3||--|
|2012||New England Patriots||14||60||4||0||3||--|
Here is what NFL.com had to say about Ryan going in to the 2013 NFL Draft:
Good size for a corner. Extremely physical. Active all across the field, and not afraid to come up an participate in the run game. Reckless abandon for his body, but still a sound tackler. Constantly around the football, makes plays on the ball. Intelligent. Experience with both man and zone coverage. Fluid hips.
Still raw in terms of technique. Lacks blazing speed. As a result, will fly his hips open far to quickly to compensate, leading to a lot of short completions. Will get too grabby and not turn his head to find ball, which will result in penalties in the NFL.
NFL Comparison: Dunta Robinson
Teams that value physicality and tackling ability from their corners will surely like Ryan. He's an active, physical player that often finds himself around the football. He's not the fastest, and will need to clean up his technique in order to be successful at the next level, but he is still likely to be a second-day selection.
How Ryan Fits the Titans
The Titans desperately need help at corner and relying solely on rookies to come in and play immediately at a notoriously tough position for rookies to pick up seems foolish. The Titans signing at least one free agent corner is the closest thing you can get to a guarantee in free agency. Out of the many good corners that could be hitting the market, Ryan seems like a particularly strong fit. We get a little extra insight in to how Ryan might fit the Titans from the words our own GM Jon Robinson in this case. Robinson was the Patriots Director of College Scouting the year that New England draft Ryan in the 3rd round. Here is what Robinson had to say about Ryan during a radio interview shortly after he was hired with the Titans last year.
“I liked him as a player, skill-set wise, I thought he would be a contributor/part-time starter. I did a breakdown of him and four-five of the other defensive backs that were in that second-third-fourth-round projected area and he was the top 'disruptor' on the ball -- caused fumbles, pass breakups, interceptions. I did an Excel document and a heat [map], with numbers and kind of did a ranking, with weighted values. It really just kind of crystallized my opinion of the player.”
This gives us a rare glimpse in to the thought process of Jon Robinson about a player that he actually may be making a decision on this offseason. The word Robinson used was “disruptor” and that is exactly what Ryan has been to this point in his career. Ryan’s first 4 years in the league have proven Robinson’s draft analytics correct as his 13 interceptions since 2013 rank 9th in the NFL over that time frame despite the fact that he has only been a full-time starter for the last two seasons.
Ryan is also a PFF darling as he has finished ranked as the 11th best corner in the NFL in 2015 and then followed that up with a 14th place finish in 2016. Ryan isn’t going to blow you away with his speed and athleticism. He ran a 4.56 40 at the combine in 2013 so his speed is average to below average for a corner, but he makes up for it with his smarts and physicality. Pats wide receiver Julian Edelman practices against Ryan every day and recently described him as “an annoying mouse” in an interview leading up to the Super Bowl. Here is more of what Edelman had to say about practicing against his teammate:
“Logan’s so instinctive,” Edelman said. “He’s so smart, and he’s a really good player. He’s developed into a really good player. We can’t give any signals, because he knows all our signals. You can’t say anything, because he knows all of what we say. When you go against Logan, you have to make up fake signals, so it’s a real true one-on-one.”
When researching Ryan those same words came up time and time again: “instinctive”, “smart”, “competitive”. Another teammate of Ryan’s in New England, Devin McCourty, called Ryan “one of the smartest players we've got on defense, he studies film like no other”. When asked to describe what’s made him so successful in the NFL, here is what Ryan had to say about himself:
"I think my combine numbers compared to other guys are probably average. I'm not 6-2. I'm not 4.2 (in the 40)," Ryan said. "That's just not how I am. I'm a guy who studies hard, plays hard and competes, plays against the quarterback, tries to get interceptions, and takes calculated risks. That's what has gotten me success in the league and that's what I'm going to continue to do."
As Ryan said, "all the answers are in the film."
"You just have to be willing to search and find it," he said. "(The answers) come up. It stays true, because that's who guys are. Everything we do is documented on film. You can watch it. So it's in there, just not everybody wants to do the work and find it."
Ryan’s makeup and mentality would fit perfectly with what the Titans are trying to build. Robinson said as much in an interview with Paul Kuharsky prior to the start of the 2016 season:
“We don’t want the guys that are going to make excuses, that aren’t willing to work hard, that think that they just earn a spot because they have a locker in the locker room,” Robinson said. “Again, nothing is guaranteed. We’re looking for guys that are tough-minded and that goes beyond the physical component of the game, that goes to the mental component.
“In that when times get tough, if you’re not cutting it out on the field, or in the classroom, that you do extra, that you stay out after practice, or you go in extra in the film room and you work to earn something.”
That description matches what Ryan is as a player exactly which isn’t surprising since Robinson played such a large role in drafting him to begin with. It only makes sense that he would be interested in teaming back up with him in Nashville. The Patriots have the cap room to bring him back if they want to, but it remains to be seen how much money they will want to commit to Ryan considering Malcolm Butler is due for a huge payday either this offseason or the next. They also have big time deals to work out with Dont’a Hightower, Martellus Bennett, Jabaal Sheard, and possibly Michael Floyd that will all likely take priority over re-signing Ryan so it is unlikely that he gets locked up prior to March 9th.
Signing Logan Ryan almost seems to make too much sense for the Titans. He fits what the team is looking for in a player and has had a lot of success over his 4 year career while showing steady improvement. He is also one of the youngest free agent corners who will enter the market at just 25 years old so most of his prime years will fall in his next contract. Ryan likely won’t command nearly as much money on the market as guys like Trumaine Johnson, A.J. Bouye, or Stephon Gilmore. Ryan is projected to get somewhere around $24M over 4 years on the open market while the other three will all probably get something like $50-60M over 5 years. If the Titans wanted to they could even double down at corner and sign Ryan in addition to one of those three with plenty of cap room to spare. Ryan could also help develop young corners like LeShaun Sims or a potential rookie draft pick with his excellent film study habits similar to the impact that Rashad Johnson reportedly had on Sims this past season.
This Sunday could be Logan Ryan’s last game in a Patriots uniform. Regardless of who you are rooting for in Super Bowl LI keep your eyes on #26 in white during the game and try to imagine what he might look like in two-tone blue. I think you will like what you see.