I don't know if I'm just getting old and ornery and just overly critical, but I'll be upfront and honest with you and say that while I think Ryan Ramczyk is a pretty good player, I wasn't blown away by his tape.
He definitely did some good things in the five games I watched, and he certainly has many of the traits teams are looking for in an NFL offensive lineman.
He also had issues with some of the better guys he faced on the edge at left tackle. Nobody is perfect, and I wouldn't expect Ramczyk to pitch a shutout for five games. At the same time, I'm used to the projected first offensive tackle off the board to make most college defensive linemen look ordinary.
Even the good ones.
I am also concerned with the fact that he had to have surgery on his hip after the season and was not able to work out at the combine other than do the bench press. It’s highly unlikely that he does anything more at his pro day either. I wouldn't be quite as concerned except for the fact that some of Ramczyk's tape is inconsistent when it comes to how well he handles power as a run-blocker and as a pass-blocker.
He did 25 reps on the bench, which is good enough for me, but certainly not an eye-popping number when you compare it to top performers on bench at his position in this draft or in previous drafts.
Once you get to 20 reps on the bench, you have shown me you are strong enough to play in the trenches. Anything above and beyond 20 reps is usually more about muscle endurance and how you trained for the combine than whether you are The Hulk incarnate or not.
Again, just my opinion.
I didn't really see him pancake a lot of guys in five games (I saw two and a possible one, including one double team), but I did see him get overpowered from time to time. When you add in the hip surgery, well, I have to start wondering if he will ever be a dominant lineman, which is what you are looking for in the first round, rather than just a pretty good one on the next level, which you can usually find in the second round or later.
I'm not sure when he first sustained the hip injury and how it may have affected his play throughout the season. But since most of the games I watched were early on in the year and he played the whole season, I can't just assume that the hip was the root of any of his problems that I saw on tape.
I can only go off how a draft prospect played in his most recent season, because even if he did play better in previous years, that doesn't mean he will ever be able to round back into that form again.
I want to state clearly that I do not think Ramczyk is a bad prospect. He did a lot of good things on tape. Let’s go through some of those good things, shall we?
Ramczyk does have good technique in just about everything he does. I like his footwork and the way he uses his hands and punch. He comes off the ball with a purpose in the run game. He looked pretty athletic as well. If I pointed out only his highlights, I could probably sell you on Ramczyk being fantastic.
On running plays, you see Ramczyk make really good contact and shock guys initially. That shows that he has some explosion to him:
He is also quick enough and fast enough to get up to the second level and make good blocks.
Thanks to Wisconsin's scheme, I also was able to see Ramczyk perform a variety of pulls out wide and fold blocks inside that showcased how well he blocks in space...usually.
Wisconsin being Wisconsin, I also got to see him perform a fair share of double-teams within its power running scheme.
As a pass-blocker, I thought Ramczyk displayed good technique with his kick step and punch. He also showed patience at times when he had to block wide rushers one-on-one:
The one thing about Ramczyk that did stick out to me in the first two games I watched, against LSU and Ohio State, was that he was on an island one-on-one with edge-rushers quite a bit. It appeared that Wisconsin was confident that he didn’t need any help in those games.
I ended up rewatching those two games to see how many times he was given a chip block for help. (I’ll talk more about why I went back to look for this later on.) Only one time in those two games Ramczyk had a running back chip an edge-rusher for him.
He more than held his own against the pass rushers from both of those teams, but I wasn't really sure how good the pass rushers for those teams were.
I will say that the other guys his teammates were facing seemed to be pretty good because several times in those two games, he would be minding his business and he has his guy on lock. But then someone else's guy would be in the backfield getting sacks and pressures.
After watching those first two games, I'm thinking of Ramczyk as a first-round pick with some issues with staying on his blocks here or there. Stuff that's fixable with some work. He didn't look like a beast but definitely a decent left tackle.
I want to note here that over the years, I have come to learn that maybe the guy who does look like a beast on film is not always the guy who is going to make the best pro either. You would be hard-pressed to find film of a college offensive tackle who had more wow blocks than Greg Robinson in his last year at Auburn. I was so taken by his physical dominance, however, that I overlooked the fact that he wasn't asked to block pass rushers one-on-one much in college.
I assumed that a guy that big, strong, explosive, and athletic could be taught some pass-blocking technique later and everybody would live happily ever after.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
I put more of a premium on actually seeing guys pass block well one-on-one, rather than seeing them block a defensive back in space on a screen or get a ton of pancakes. That's exactly why Ronnie Stanley was my No. 1 guy last year. I mean, it’s great if you are a good run-blocker. But as they say, the NFL is a passing league now. If you can't pass block as an offensive lineman, you are basically worthless.
Ramczyk may not have jumped off the screen at me, but he at least looked like a competent pass-blocker in those first two games I watched.
And then I got to that Michigan tape...
It wasn't like Ramczyk gave up a bunch of sacks. But of the games that I watched, it was my first time seeing him get beat clean, repeatedly. It appeared that the game plan called for guys to use spin moves on him:
Ramczyk had a hell of a time holding up on spin moves all of a sudden. I don't know who figured out that was his kryptonite, but the dude didn't look the same after getting beat a few times.
Then I looked up and noticed that Ramczyk was getting help from the running back with chip blocks after being on an island most of those first two games.
Those chip blocks weren't all just precautionary, either. Some of them were necessary or else Ramczyk was going to get his quarterback killed.
I went back and rewatched for chip blocks in the first two games because I couldn't recall him ever needing any help. I did find one chip block, but it wasn't like Ramczyk needed help on that play. It looked more like the running back just wanted to get a chuck on the pass rusher for the hell of it.
I didn't see a lot of spin moves against Ramczyk in those two games either.
Of course, he still did some good things against Michigan, and for the most part, you could probably make the case that he had a good game against the Wolverines.
That’s only because the guy who beat him on some of these plays didn't end up making a big play. That doesn't take away from the fact that he was beaten on those plays.
Michigan's edge guys made Ramczyk look ordinary. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most NFL teams have better edge-rushers.
But then it wasn't just Michigan's edge-rushers, either.
Ramczyk's tape against Nebraska was solid, with some bad. I had more questions after I saw him against the Michigan State Spartans.
He got beat with another spin move: an inside to outside spin.
He also needed chip blocks to help him again with their edge-rushers.
Then Ramczyk got beat clean with a long arm:
That reminded me of when he had some trouble with a couple of long-arm moves in the Nebraska game.
At that point, I started to question whether Ramczyk is a first-round pick at all.
Again, I do not want to discount all of the good things I saw in the last three games of his that I watched. Ramczyk shows you some stuff on tape that would have you believe he is going to be good as a pro and maybe a little bit better. But the problematic pass-blocking is still hard to overlook.
I went back to look at other plays I thought were only minor issues in the first two games.
For instance, I didn't think he was quite as sticky with his blocks — as I would like to see. It’s good to get that initial thump on a run block, but maintaining contact with the guy you are blocking is usually what keeps him from making the play:
Several times I saw Ramczyk start off his block well only to end up getting shed a little too easily before his guy ends up making the play:
At times he got blown up trying to make blocks on the second level:
I never like seeing my potential first-round offensive tackle getting absolutely stuffed by a college linebacker. It happens, but I don't have to like it.
Ramczyk also got caught slipping with a well-timed bull rush.
Maybe the hip injury had something to do with some of these plays, maybe not. All I know is it wasn't always pretty.
If there was one thing that still made me believe that Ramczyk might be worthy of a first-round pick, however, it was his outstanding ability to recover on plays where he had to move laterally and missed his block initially:
It is remarkable to see an offensive lineman do this even once in five games. To see him do it repeatedly was low-key amazing to me.
In this one especially, Ramczyk recovers from his knees to make a block on a defensive tackle who had beaten him and kept him from making the play:
Those plays showed the kind of balance you want from an NFL offensive lineman no matter where you put him. That's key because I'm not sure that he is an NFL left tackle.
Or at least not a first-round NFL left tackle.
If a team takes him in the first round with the intentions of moving him to right tackle and making sure he has a lot of help on passing downs, a la Jack Conklin, I think that might be a smart move.
I do not believe it’s as easy as snapping your fingers when it comes to moving a guy from one side of the line to the other. But with some work, I could see Ramczyk doing well as a right tackle. Lest we forget, there are monsters like Khalil Mack lining up against right tackles. He isn't going to have it easy there, either.
Ramczyk might also be a candidate to move inside, although at 6'6 he might be a little tall for the position. He plays with good pad level for the most part, but I have some concerns about how he would hold up against bigger, stronger defensive tackles in the league.
Only one way to find out though, right?
Do I think Ryan Ramczyk will be a good NFL player? Yeah, probably.
But I also saw enough in five games to give me some doubts. I don't like having reservations about first-round prospects. I'm not sure Ramczyk is ever going to be better than good, if that, at left tackle in the NFL. If the team that drafts him doesn't need him to play right away, he may end up blossoming with time to fully recover from the surgery and improve his strength and technique.
However, not many teams have the luxury of taking an offensive lineman in the first round that they don't intend on starting right away.
Maybe Ramczyk is the best this draft class has to offer at offensive tackle. That would only mean that it’s a down year for offensive tackles. If he does end up being the top tackle off the board, I still wouldn't expect him to be taken all that early in the first round, even though free agency has shown us that a lot of teams are desperate for offensive line help.
The Titans traded up to get Conklin and moved him to right tackle. He’s played exactly as I predicted in his breakdown, and nobody seems to believe they should regret the decision after his pretty damn good start as a rookie.
I don't see Ramczyk as being as good as Conklin, but maybe some GM does.
Since I don't have access to All-22 for college football games, I use the next best thing for my draft profiles and go to Draft Breakdown where the TV copy for a bunch of top prospects is already cut up and ready to go. Also the site is compatible with the new NoHuddle app that turns your cell phone into a cowboy clicker, which is pretty damn neat.
For the purposes of this breakdown I watched Ramczyk play against LSU, Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, and Nebraska. Those represented the first, fourth, fifth, sixth (after an off week), and eighth games on Wisconsin's schedule last season, respectively.