Mandatory minicamps are underway across the NFL. This means that all players on a team's roster get their chance to prove themselves before training camps start late July.
They better make the best out of every drill and every snap because by late August – not even three months away –, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at cornerback Logan Ryan.
Name: Logan Ryan
Jersey number: 26
Size: 5'11, 195 lbs.
2015 review: Prior to the 2015 season, the Patriots' starting cornerback spots were up for grabs due to Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner leaving the team via free agency. Malcolm Butler quickly established himself as the replacement for Revis on one side, while the race for the other spot remained open.
It took until after week two for Ryan to win the race for said spot opposite Butler. Once he secured the starting role, the young duo grew into one of the best cornerback tandems in the NFL. While Butler had a Pro Bowl season, Ryan also had a very good year.
He appeared in all 18 of the Patriots' games, and despite playing only four snaps on opening day, finished the year with a defensive playing time percentage of 90.7 – second highest on the team. Overall, he was targeted 97 times, allowing 55 pass completions for 788 yards and four touchdowns.
Ryan also intercepted a team-leading four passes and broke up 10 more. The passer rating he allowed – 79.9 – was the best of all Patriots cornerbacks. Added all up, he had a very good season; the best of his three-year career.
2016 preview: Entering 2016, Logan Ryan is penciled in as one of the Patriots' two starting perimeter cornerbacks. The 25-year, who old enters the final year of his rookie contract, will therefore be among the team leaders in defensive snaps played yet again: Ryan is projected play close to 100% of the snaps week in and week out.
As has been the case in 2015, Ryan will mostly be tasked with covering an opponent's number two receiving option (depending, of course, on the gameplan), a role he was productive in last year. While he did have safety help over the top from time to time, Ryan became better as a one-on-one defender the more playing time he saw and the more experience within the Patriots' secondary he got.
With Ryan likely seeing regular snaps with New England's number one defense this summer – courtesy of the non-existent need to fill two starting cornerback spots –, his growth as a player is expected to continue. Therefore, it is not unrealistic to see Ryan repeat his 2015 performance in 2016.
While he does not stand out as much as Malcolm Butler, given his specific match-ups, Logan Ryan is an important cog in the Patriots' defensive machine. He offers experience and playmaking ability, while he is an able corner in both man and zone coverage concepts. Most importantly, he does his job. Well.