Background and college
Ryan was born March 27, 1980 in Buffalo, New York, and attended St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, where he lettered in football, basketball, and lacrosse. At Boston College, he was originally a defensive end, but switched to tight end as a sophomore. Called the "most competitive player in the Big East" by USA Today, he excelled in both blocking and receiving and received All-Big East second team honors (2002). His 12 touchdown receptions rank second in school history among tight ends.
Before the Jets
He was selected with the twelfth pick in the 5th round (144th overall) of the 2004 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and signed to the practice squad. In 2004, with Dan Campbell going on injured reserve, he appeared in 6 games as the blocking tight end. He fractured his foot in training camp and missed all of the 2005 preseason, but was still signed to the practice squad. In November 2005, with 3rd-string TE Brett Pierce injured, Ryan was promoted to the main squad again.
As a Jet
On 31 August 2006, Ryan was traded to the New York Jets for a seventh-round draft choice in the 2007 NFL Draft. Ryan was the #2 tight end for the Jets, behind Chris Baker. In Week 7 of the 2007 season, against Cincinnati, Ryan, playing for injured starter Baker, caught a career-high three passes for 46 yards, including a 22-yarder on the first offensive play of the game and another 22-yarder on the first play of the second half.
After the Jets