2019 team/Salary: Tennessee Titans / $9.5 million
2019 stats: 16 games played, 16 starts, 4 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles, 113 total tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks
Height/Weight: 5-11 / 195
Ryan’s connection to the Lions is clear. He would become one of many former New England Patriots to make their way to Michigan since Patricia took over as head coach in 2018 after serving as the Patriots’ defensive coordinator for six seasons. In four previous years under Patrica, he had some highly productive campaigns while filling a variety of roles.
That would likely be his calling card again with the Lions, as adaptable defensive backs are incredibly important in Patricia’s defensive scheme. Ryan isn’t one of the league’s best down-to-down cover corners, but his across-the-board production is startling.
Ryan led the NFL in tackles during the just-completed playoffs, and his 113 tackles during the regular season were the most by any cornerback. Sound tackling is a must for Lions corners, largely since they are critical members of the system’s gap-control run defense.
In a gap-control scheme, cornerbacks are often tasked with playing closer to the line of scrimmage and wrapping up ball carriers who break through to the second and third levels. Ryan could help here, as well as providing some occasional pressure on quarterbacks.
He could also help quench the Lions’ thirst for takeaways; he picked off four passes and forced four fumbles last season. In addition, he registered a memorable game-clinching interception and touchdown of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in the Tennessee Titans’ shocking opening-round upset victory over New England this past January.
Ryan isn’t a prototypical outside cornerback, and the Lions would likely still have to address this position in April’s draft should Slay depart and Ryan join the team. However, Ryan’s multi-faceted game would be a strong addition to the unit and would offer Detroit all kinds of enticing defensive options in 2020 should the two sides have mutual interest.