Ryan Ramczyk’s (pronounced “Ram-Check”) path to the draft has been rather interesting. After he was a First-Team All-State tackle in high school, he turned down offers from major FBS programs to enter a technical school. He then transferred to the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point, a Division III program. Playing there for two seasons, he was re-recruited to play for Paul Chryst, the Wisconsin-Madison head coach, and then he sat out a year due to NCAA transfer rules finally starting at left tackle in 2016.
He is seen by many as a potential first round pick, and in my opinion, he is the second best offensive line prospect in this class. Forrest Lamp from Western Kentucky is the higher rated player on my board but his skill-set translates to the guard position in the NFL.
While I analyzed a few of his games, I wanted to focus on Ramczyk’s game versus Taco Charlton and Chris Wormley when the Badgers faced Michigan last season. Unlike the Texas-Notre Dame game that we discussed Wednesday with DeShone Kizer, the Wisconsin-Michigan game was a defensive battle. Seeing the loaded roster for the Wolverines and their potential 16 players that could be drafted this year, I truthfully expected Ramczyk to play poorly. In fact, it was quite the opposite.
He is one of the pass blockers in this year’s class. He routinely won his match-ups throughout the game using excellent hand fighting techniques. Lining up at left tackle, he typically faced Charlton, a likely first round pick. Now this didn’t happen every snap, and we’ll discuss Wormley later in this article, but he was downright dominant for the vast majority of the game. He did a great job setting the edge patiently mirroring Charlton in space and did a great job of resetting his hands to get ready for the second punch.
Here’s another example in the middle of the second quarter where Charlton lined up as a “6-technique” opposite of the tight end. Ramczyk used his hands and quick feet around the edge to box him out of the play.
As a whole, Charlton only beat Ramczyk twice this game and both actually happened in the first quarter. On this rush attempt, Charlton used a quick spin move driving his inside shoulder into his chestplate negating his excellent hand usage. Then Charlton spun out of it using his outside arm in an “ice pick” technique to get past. While he didn’t make the tackle, he shut down the running lane.
After he was beat once using a spin move, Charlton went back to the same move on the very next play. At this point in the game, I was getting legitimately nervous. Clearly, he was having trouble blocking Charlton’s inside pass rush move.
By the end of the game, I half-expected this move to be used more. In reality, Charlton only used it twice more and he blocked them both well. Here is Charlton’s fourth and final spin move in the fourth quarter where this time Ramczyk was ready for it and patiently blocked him.
Beyond the initial spin move, the only other player to beat him was actually Jabrill Peppers. Peppers blitzed off the edge and Ramczyk was late picking it up.
While he is an excellent pass blocker, he does not get the best push and leverage as a run blocker. Usually it’s due to him standing too tall while blocking. A good example of this can be seen in the middle of the third quarter, when Wormley holds the edge well with great leverage collapsing both the tight end and the left tackle. Throughout this game, I was very impressed by Wormley’s consistent ability to maintain the edge in run defense.
Another example of Ramczyk getting too tall in his stance happened in the third quarter. He attempted to drive block #99 Matthew Godin, but Godin maintained better leverage getting lower in his stance.
Against the pass rush, Ramczyk did a great job of halting Wormley in his tracks. In the fourth quarter, where even though he was rushing from a wide alignment, he was able to slow his rush.
Going through his tape, the one thing that really impressed me about his skill-set was that he has very quick feet and does a fantastic job of getting to his second level blocks with ease. He has the versatility to fit any blocking scheme and I think he could do very well in the zone blocking scheme that the Seattle Seahawks run.
To summarize, I broke down each match-up comparing how Ramczyk performed in each facet of his game:
- Versus Charlton in pass protection: Ramczyk, clear winner
- Versus Charlton in run blocking: Charlton, slight edge
- Versus Wormley in pass protection: Ramczyk, clear winner
- Versus Wormley in run blocking: Wormley, clear winner
This is probably obvious by now, but Ramczyk was the clear winner in pass blocking showing good footwork and hand fighting techniques to win in the trenches. Both Michigan defenders won versus the run, though.
Overall, I gave Ramczyk a late first round grade. While he has Day 1 starting abilities, I think his ceiling as a player might be limited by his shorter than ideal arm length at 33.75 inches. Typically, you look for offensive tackles with a minimum arm length of 34 inches with 34.5 inches or greater preferred. In addition to this, he doesn’t seem to play with the mean streak that I like in my ideal offensive line prospects.
With all these points considered, I believe that Russell Wilson and the Seahawks could really benefit by drafting him. He would instantly start at the left tackle position confidently holding down the edge. Since Seattle signed Luke Joeckel to a one-year contract, they could put Joeckel at left guard where he played with the Jaguars in his final season. Then they could have Mark Glowinski and Oday Aboushi compete for the starting right guard position.
This year’s draft class has little offensive line talent, Ramczyk might get selected by the New York Giants or the Denver Broncos who hold earlier picks. If he makes it to their pick, however, I think that Seattle should pull the trigger and lock up the left tackle position for a long time.
Note: I am assuming Seattle’s team doctors have evaluated his hip post-surgery and they are comfortable with him being fully healthy for offseason programs.