The New England Patriots decide to take Rutgers Scarlet Knights cornerback Logan Ryan off the board with the 83rd pick in the draft, and there are plenty Patriots-Rutgers connections that go with the move. No team knows Rutgers better than the Patriots, and that likely had a heavy impact on the Patriots decision to draft both Ryan and defensive back teammate Duron Harmon in the third round. Ryan is, in my opinion, the significantly better player of the two, and he fits the mold of the player the Patriots like to draft.
Ryan has great intangibles and is yet another Patriots cornerback who can make big plays in run defense. One of the best run-stopping CBs in this draft, Ryan likely caught Bill Belichick’s eye with his 11.5 tackles for loss last season, and he looks like one for the future. Right now, Ryan will be jammed behind Aqib Talib, Alfonzo Dennard, and Kyle Arrington as a the No. 4 CB, but he will have a critical role as the No. 4 CB. Ryan will give the Pats quality depth at the position, and he could replace Talib in 2014 if he shows up well enough and the Pats cannot re-sign Talib.
The Patriots needed to draft a cornerback this year, and the third round looked like an ideal time to take somebody off the board. The Patriots drafted a pass rusher and a receiver in the second, and the top cornerbacks were quickly flying off of the draft board. If the Patriots didn’t make the move to draft Logan Ryan, then they would have likely ended up with very little to work with at the position. With the 83rd pick, the Pats were down to Oregon State Beavers CB Jordan Poyer and Ryan, and Ryan was the better pick of the two.
Ryan runs a 4.56 forty, but he is more of a short-area quickness guy than a guy with long speed. He will get burned vertically, and Ryan looks a little bit like Kyle Arrington to me. The Patriots already locked up Arrington to the tune of a four-year deal this offseason, so the Patriots aren’t replacing Arrington anytime soon. However, Ryan will be locked in as the other slot corner, and there is a possibility that he ends up being better than Arrington on the outside.
The main asset that Ryan provides as a CB is his physicality, and he does an excellent job in press coverage at the line of scrimmage. His physicality, run defense, and lack of long speed give him the mold of a slot receiver and of a Patriots prospect. But not everyone who struggles with long speed and is physical is solely a slot guy, because it is important to note that Alfonzo Dennard (and Aqib Talib to a certain extent) generally fit those descriptors. Thus, Logan Ryan fits the mold of the type of cornerback Bill Belichick likes.
Belichick had little to choose from in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, and I think Ryan constitutes a solid pick. He intercepted seven passes last season, put up great numbers, and he is a smart player with good ball skills. What makes Ryan interesting to me is his ability to succeed in man and zone coverage, and I think that’s definitely a plus for the Patriots. Although he is overly aggressive at times and could be prone to pass interference penalties in the pros (the Patriots need to work on his discipline), Ryan’s aggressiveness is a huge asset, and that allows him to deliver some devastating hits.
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