Ryder has 'freak' speed, agility and leap for someone of his size and it is these attributes that has him compared to retired Indigenous Australian rules football star Graham "Polly" Farmer. Essendon secured Ryder with its first selection in the 2005 AFL Draft, which was the seventh pick in the League.
He made his debut in round 1, 2006 and played mostly ruck. Ryder was awarded a NAB Rising Star nomination for his efforts in Round 1, 2007. He won the Anzac Medal in 2009 after teammate David Hille was injured in the opening minutes of the game, resulting in Ryder rucking unassisted for the entire game.
Ryder's improved form in the second half of the 2013 season after struggling with poor output and low confidence saw him play a big role in Essendon’s push to the finals. He played mainly in the ruck, where his tap-work was crucial, and also played forward and in defence. The 26-year-old has the ability to be one of the Bombers' key game-breakers, but can struggle with consistency.
Ryder remained a vital part of the Essendon outfit as firstly a ruckman and then an option as he pushed forward with his lightning pace and high-marking ability. Ryder had a solid start to 2014, including a two-goal performance in round 9 against Sydney. Ryder has announced himself as a player who can break games open and become a match-winner.
At the end of the 2014 season, it was reported that Ryder had quit Essendon and had nominated Port Adelaide as his preferred club of destination. On October 16, he was traded to the Power.