Bringing back Aqib Talib was a good move, especially on a relatively team-friendly one-year, $5 million deal, but the one year does indicate the Patriots may be looking past the troubled star going forward. So, this year’s draft may be just the place that they locate Talib’s eventual replacement.
Some of the top-tier options include Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Florida State’s Xavier Rhodes and Washington’s Desmond Trufant, but it is very possible that none of them are around when the Pats pick at No. 29. So, looking beyond those prospects, or even beyond the first round, seems to be a good bet.
Rutgers cornerback Logan Ryan fits the general mold of a Patriots cornerback. He’s physical and a very sound tackler, and maybe even more importantly his three-cone time was an incredible 6.69 seconds — the Patriots tend to fawn over skill players with sub-seven-second times in the three-cone.
The Patriots typically don’t draft players who run slower than a 4.50 40-yard dash, but they did make an exception in 2012 with Alfonzo Dennard and that’s panned out alright so far. So, maybe Ryan’s slower 40 time (4.56) won’t have a great impact, especially with that incredible three-cone time.
Ryan also looks very close, both in physical build and in raw football skill set, to current Patriots corner Kyle Arrington. Arrington is 5-foot-10 and 195 pounds and boasts many of the same traits as Ryan. Maybe that makes Ryan obsolete when it comes to New England, but putting him on the outside opposite Dennard in a year may be intriguing to Bill Belichick and his staff.
Editor’s Note: NESN.com will evaluate and analyze one potential Patriots draft prospect every day from March 27 up until the start of the NFL Draft on April 25. Ryan is the 20th player in that series.
Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 191 pounds
40 Time: 4.56 seconds
Vertical Jump: 32.5 inches
Ryan wasn’t much of an impact player early in his career, managing just nine tackles and one pass breakup during his sophomore season in 2010. But he became a starter in 2011 and really excelled from that point on. He was named a first-team All-Big East corner in his final two seasons. In 2011, he recorded 67 tackles, two forced fumbles, 13 passes defensed and three interceptions. As a senior in 2012, Ryan produced even more with 94 tackles, 17 pass break ups and four interceptions.
Ryan is still a very raw prospect who will need some time to develop his technique before becoming a sound cover corner. But he does play a very physical brand of football and is very good against the run. He won’t come in and make a huge impact right away, but he could be a good fourth or fifth cornerback — maybe even playing in that money linebacker role — in year one.
There is some excitement about what Ryan offers in terms of physicality, but he is more of a second- or third-round pick than anything. His stock is not in the first-round range and the Patriots will probably even have a chance to snag him at No. 59 in Round 2.
Strengths: Ryan plays a lot bigger than he is and gets very physical with receivers in coverage. He is very fluid in and out of his breaks when changing direction and has a knack for getting his hands on the football. He is also a very active participant in the run game. He likes to attack the line of scrimmage on run plays and is a very aggressive and sound tackler.
Weaknesses: He doesn’t flash great straight-line speed, which could hurt him against straight-line receivers. His physicality can be a negative as he draws too many penalties at times. He doesn’t read the ball and rarely turns to find it in the air, even when contacting the receiver. His technique is also rather sloppy. He needs to work on his footwork and read the receiver a little more or he’ll get beat consistently at the pro level.
Scout Ryan for yourself below.
Thursday: Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
Other potential prospects: Xavier Rhodes, CB, Florida State | Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee | Justin Pugh, OG, Syracuse | Alex Okafor, DE, Texas | Terrance Williams, WR, Baylor | Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina | Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia | David Amerson, CB, North Carolina State | Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee | Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB, Connecticut | Margus Hunt, DT, SMU | Ryan Swope, WR, Texas A&M | Tyrann Mathieu, CB, LSU | Barrett Jones, C, Alabama | DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Clemson | Darius Slay, CB, Mississippi State | Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech | Jesse Williams, DT, Alabama | Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia