2017 NFL draft prospect countdown, No. 35: Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin
What you need to know: Ramczyk’s journey to the draft has not been as rocky as fellow OT prospect Garett Bolles, but he didn’t exactly follow a typical path himself. He took a year off from football after high school and spent a semester each at Madison Area Technical College and Mid-State Technical College (Wisc.). From there, Ramczyk returned to the gridiron at D-III Wisconsin Stevens-Point, then transferred to Wisconsin two seasons later. After NCAA transfer rules forced him to sit out 2015, Ramczyk finally made his FBS debut last fall. He wasted no time making his presence felt, starting all 14 games for the Badgers and landing on the All-America first-team, alongside Alabama’s Cam Robinson.
Strengths: There is a certain tranquility to watching Ramczyk work. He never panics, even when a defender manages to gain a step on him; he never lets the play speed up his own process. Everything Ramczyk does on a block happens in orderly fashion.
That’s not to say that he is incapable of overpowering defenders—he does that on angle blocks down toward the center and when he drives edge-setters wide to clear room in that B-gap (between the guard and tackle). But Ramczyk’s most effective moments often occurred when he let the action come to him.
As a pass protector, that meant keeping his footwork clean and patient when dealing with speed off the edge. He maintained that composure when faced with stunts, as well, seamlessly handing off his initial block inside to pick up any DT trying to loop around him. In Wisconsin’s run game, Ramczyk bounded from the first to second levels with ease.
He has a strong initial punch on those run plays. Edge defenders have to take advantage when they catch Ramczyk leaning, because it doesn’t happen often.
Weaknesses: He required hip surgery after Wisconsin’s season and was unable to participate in drills at the combine. Best-case scenario, he is 100% ready sometime this summer, but even that timetable would mean absences during early mini-camps.
“[It’s the] kind of an injury where it’s about how you’re feeling, so five months [of recovery] is typical,” Ramczyk said at the combine. “I should absolutely be clear by training camp. Hopefully OTAs, but I’m not positive yet.”
Ramczyk can handle speed or power rushers, but he has to improve against counter moves. Michigan’s Taco Charlton, another member of our Top 40, whirled around him multiple times with a quick spin move during the Wolverines’ October win in Ann Arbor. Ramczyk also will lose a hand fight if he doesn’t land the first blow.
A team desiring a real road-grader of a tackle might look elsewhere. Ramczyk is more athletic and fluid than an OT that drops the hammer on every down.
NFL player comparison: Zach Strief