"He reminds me of somebody," he said, "but I don’t want to saddle him with that."
On Wednesday night, Ryan came clean.
Addressing season-ticket holders at a Town Hall meeting in Manhattan, Ryan compared the Jets' first-round pick to one of the most notorious hitters in NFL history.
"He reminds me of Jack Tatum -- an enforcer back there," Ryan told the crowd, according to the team's website. (Print and digital media weren't permitted to cover the event.)
For the younger generation, Tatum -- nicknamed "The Assassin" -- played safety for the Oakland Raiders from 1971 to 1979. He was named one of the hardest hitters in league history (some might call him dirty), employing a style that would make him a heavily fined player in Roger Goodell's NFL. (Side note: Tatum grew up in Passaic, N.J., about 30 minutes from the Jets' facility.)
No doubt, Ryan meant it as a compliment -- he believes Pryor can deliver game-changing hits -- but the last thing the rookie needs is a reputation before he steps on the field. Officials will be watching.