NFL draft profile: No. 23 — Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk, one-year standout with injury worry

Shutdown Corner

Shutdown Corner is counting down the top 50 prospects in the 2017 NFL draft with a scouting report, quotes from NFL evaluators and a projection where they might be drafted.

23. Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
6-foot-6, 310 pounds

Key stat: According to Pro Football Focus, Ramczyk graded as the top run-blocking offensive lineman in FBS last season.

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Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk, who spent one year in Division-I, still should be a first-round pick. (AP)
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk, who spent one year in Division-I, still should be a first-round pick. (AP)

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The skinny: It’s not often you see a former Division-III player be considered a possible top-20 pick, but here we are. To say Ramczyk took the long road to get to this point is selling him short. The all-state prep prospect from Wisconsin turned down two D-I offers — one from then-Pitt head coach Paul Chryst and one from the Badgers — and originally enrolled at D-II Winona State in 2012 but did not play football. He eventually dropped out there and took classes at Mid-State Technical College, which did not have a football team. Ramczyk then enrolled at D-III Wisconsin-Stevens Point, playing two seasons there, before transferring to Madison after Chryst took the job there.

And in one of the better stories of this past season, Ramczyk went from quality scout team performer in 2015 (when he had to sit out the season) to first-team All-Big Ten and Associated Press All-American as the starting left tackle for the Badgers. He suffered a hip injury during the season that required surgery on Jan. 5 but still opted to declare early for the 2017 NFL draft.

Ramczyk was forced to skip most of the workouts at the NFL scouting combine while he rehabbed and was given a recovery timetable of at least four months, but he likely will not perform any football-related activities until after the draft. He turns 23 this year.

Best-suited destination: Scouts have told us they believe Ramczyk can project to any type of blocking system, but a few are convinced he’s best suited to step right in on a heavy zone-blocking line as either a left or right tackle. Teams that could be very interested in his services include the Los Angeles Rams, Washington Redskins, Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Cincinnati Bengals, although as we said, Ramczyk shouldn’t be considered a poor fit in any scheme really.

Upside: Terrific wingspan and reach — measured in with 33 3/4-inch arms and 10 7/8-inch hands at the combine. Well-proportioned — played in the 315-pound range during the season and weighed in at 310 at the combine. Moves exceptionally well for his size and can get low despite his length. Fires out of his stance and gets squared up quickly. Nimble and light-footed. Good balance, footwork and weight distribution. Technically sound and appears prepared for his assignments. Recognizes blitzes and stunts and adjusts well. Climbs to the second level well and keeps his head on a swivel. This is hardly a dominant block but a good example of Ramczyk leading the way against a good LSU front in his first D-I start at Lambeau Field:

Watch as Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk works through one block and onto the next. (Draftbreakdown.com, via YouTube)
Watch as Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk works through one block and onto the next. (Draftbreakdown.com, via YouTube)

Ramczyk also plays with underrated power, can anchor and hold firm against the bull rush, counterpunches well against forceful initial moves and stands his ground most of the time.

Downside: One-year wonder in FBS. Other than Tampa Bay Buccaneers guard Ali Marpet, there’s not a long recent history of D-III offensive linemen making it. Hip injury will require close medical scrutiny. Teams must figure out if it’s a long-term concern. Ramczyk is not a knockdown, dominant force player. Won’t bury defenders consistently. He too often will play paddycake with defensive linemen, which might not play in the NFL. Can give ground against elite power rushers. Still learning to harness his natural gifts. Can get a little upright and create space for speed rushers to get underneath his pads. Beat twice by spin moves from Michigan’s Taco Charlton. Will fail to finish speed rushers off when pushing them upfield. Could stand to add a little bulk and play closer to the 320 range for some schemes. Needs more pop in his punch.

Scouting hot take: “It’s not often you have a guy almost come out of nowhere. I mean, we knew him, but we didn’t know anything about him, you know? We just knew what we heard before the LSU game. I mean, what a debut. We started debating a bit at that point, some of us, whether he was a better run blocker or pass blocker. He’s fascinating, really. But you have to look hard at him because of how little good tape he has and you don’t know if he’s a [health concern] long term, but they say he’s going to be OK there.” — NFC scout

Player comp: Ramczyk isn’t Joe Thomas, but he has some of him in his play. We’ll hedge a bit and say he’s in the same vein as Bryan Bulaga, Donald Penn and Joe Staley, all very good tackles when healthy.

Expected draft range: First round, and a top-25 pick if he gets a good medical report

Previous profiles

Nos. 51-100: Here’s who just missed the cut
No. 50: Indiana OG-C Dan Feeney
No. 49: Iowa DB Desmond King
No. 48: Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
No. 47: Wisconsin pass rusher T.J. Watt
No. 46. Alabama pass rusher Tim Williams
No. 45. Washington CB Sidney Jones
No. 44. Alabama LB Ryan Anderson
No. 43. Ohio State WR-RB Curtis Samuel
No. 42. Florida DT Caleb Brantley
No. 41. Connecticut DB Obi Melifonwu
No. 40. USC CB-KR Adoree’ Jackson
No. 39. Texas Tech QB Patrick Mahomes
No. 38. Michigan State DL Malik McDowell
No. 37: Ole Miss TE Evan Engram
No. 36: Florida LB Jarrad Davis
No. 35: Washington S Budda Baker
No. 34: Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon
No. 33: Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
No. 32: Florida CB Quincy Wilson
No. 31: Tennessee RB Alvin Kamara
No. 30: Michigan DB-RS Jabrill Peppers
No. 29: Alabama OT Cam Robinson
No. 28: Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer
No. 27: LSU CB Tre’Davious White
No. 26: Missouri DE Charles Harris
No. 25: UCLA pass rusher Takkarist McKinley
No. 24: Michigan DE Taco Charlton

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Eric Edholm is a writer for Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at edholm@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter!

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