Ed Reed has long been the standard bearer at safety in Baltimore. The Hall of Fame playmaker was arguably the most feared player for the Ravens during his prime and he set the standard for what a coverage safety should be. The safety spot next to Reed, however, has been a carousal of players, some productive and some not, none coming close to the caliber of Ed Reed. The Ravens had long been desiring a special talent to pair with Reed in order to give Baltimore a dominate safety duo and wreck havoc on the league. A player that could compliment Reed’s coverage ability with hard-nosed run defense. Ravens fans got their wish in the 5th round of the 2006 NFL by a little known safety out of Georgia Tech named Dawan Landry. Landry would certainly outplay his draft selection and would have a fantastic career in Baltimore before signing a big deal with the Jaguars.
As mentioned before, Landry found his way to Baltimore by way of the 2006 NFL Draft. Not much was expected out of the 146th overall pick but he quickly made an impression, being named starter opposite Ed Reed for the season. Being named a defensive starter in 2006 for the Ravens was not small task and to do it as a rookie made it that much more eye opening. The 2006 Ravens defense was one of the best in franchise history, and that is saying something for a franchise that has routinely touted some of the most fearsome stop units ever. Despite playing along side big names such as Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs, Landry stood out among a sea of stars. His rookie year saw him finish with 69 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 passes defensed, 5 interceptions, and 1 defensive touchdown. Landry’s big rookie year saw him earn a vote for Defensive Rookie of the Year (the award would go to Houston’s DeMeco Ryans). Even more than that, expectations for Landry were sky high entering his second season.
Landry’s sophomore season was nearly as productive as he posted 82 tackles, 6 passes defensed, and a sack. His encore to his rookie season proved that Landry was no mere flash in the pan. His ability to defend the run as well as he can drop back into coverage made Landry a phenomenal young defender who was the perfect running mate to Ed Reed. Unfortunately his 2008 season was cut short after only two games, as Landry would suffer a spinal injury against the Cleveland Browns. He would rebound nicely in the next few seasons, posting 200 tackles, 1 sack, 12 passes defended, 4 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns. Landry would rope these successful seasons into a big contract in 2011, signing a 5 year contract with Jacksonville worth up to $27 million. Landry was to be an enforcer for a Jacksonville defense that need physicality on its back end. He would be released in 2013 following the purging of several large contracts from the team in an attempt of another rebuild. He would be picked up by the New York Jets, reuniting him with his former coach Rex Ryan, and would play there for 2 years. He would quietly retire from the league following the 2014 season.
Though he only spent five years in Baltimore, Landry should not be overlooked as a Raven. Coming into one of the most dominate defenses in recent memory as a 5th round pick, Landry not only started but stood out. He quickly made a name for himself on his own as a key cog for several elite Baltimore defenses. Able to play the run as well as the pass, and even proving to be a surprisingly good pass rusher, Landry was truly a do-it-all player for the Ravens. His hard hits and play making ability quickly made him a fan favorite and though he only spent five years in Baltimore, Landry made his mark. Making waves as a lowly 5th round pick, Landry showed that immense value can come at any point of the draft and continued the Raven tradition of being finding late round diamonds. Playing next to certified Hall of Famers, Landry was able to show up and show out.