Ryan Ramczyk added to Wisconsin’s long history of offensive line success in the NFL when the New Orleans Saints took him with the final pick of the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Ramczyk, a 6-foot-6, 314-pound lineman from Stevens Point, Wis., was given a first-round grade by NFL evaluators and declared for the draft in early January after one season in Madison. That puts him on the same level as former Badgers QB Russell Wilson as players to play just one season at Wisconsin before jumping to the pros.
That is one of the facts you need to know about this 2017 NFL Draft prospect. Here are some more.
Ryan Ramczyk in 2017 NFL Draft
1. He almost became a welder instead of a football player.
According to a story written by ESPN’s Jesse Temple in November, Ramczyk was seriously debating if he should give up football for a welder’s life. After signing to play with Division II Winona State to play football, Ramczyk quit the sport and never played a down in Winona, Minn.
Ramczyk’s father, Randy, suggested to his son that he should pick up welding as a career, as welders are in high demand. Thankfully for Wisconsin, Ramczyk missed football so much that he caught on with Division III Wisconsin-Stevens Point. He was named a Division III All-American.
2. Ramczyk almost played at every NCAA division level.
Speaking of Ramczyk’s pre-Wisconsin years, he was almost a rarity of the highest degree. While pondering life without football, Ramczyk attended Madison Area Technical College and Mid-State Technical College in Stevens Point for a semester each before deciding to return to the game at Stevens Point.
Had he played even one down at Winona State, Ramczyk would have finished his college career playing at every NCAA division level. Yep, he would’ve been a Division I, II and III athlete. There are no known records of any athlete playing at every level.
3. He was recruited by Badgers coach Paul Chryst — twice.
Coming out of high school in 2011, there was one coach who was smitten with Ramczyk as a lineman. That coach was current Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst, who was the Badgers’ offensive coordinator six years ago. As recounted in this uwbadgers.com article, when Chryst became head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, he tried to convince Ramczyk to join the Panthers and offered the Stevens Point Area Senior High School standout a scholarship.
Ramczyk deemed Pitt too far away from home and declined. After dominating the Division III scene, Ramczyk was debating a move up to the Division I level in 2015. Chryst had just become Wisconsin’s head coach and was able to land Ramczyk the second time around.
4. Ramczyk and T.J. Watt could make Wisconsin history in the draft.
Ramczyk and Watt are on the verge of doing something in the NFL draft that hasn’t happened at Wisconsin in six years. Should they go in the first round, it would mark the first time since 2011 that multiple Badgers were taken in the first round.
Coincidentally, the two Wisconsin players taken in the first round that year were a defensive lineman and an offensive lineman. That defensive lineman was J.J. Watt — T.J. Watt’s older brother. The offensive lineman was Badgers standout Gabe Carimi.
It would mark the fifth time in Wisconsin history — 2011, 2001, 2000 and 1985 being the other years — that multiple Badgers players were taken in the first round.
5. Ramczyk is continuing the successful Wisconsin-to-NFL offensive line pipeline.
When it comes to offensive linemen, Wisconsin could almost be considered a factory, and Ramczyk is no exception. In the last decade, the Badgers have sent 10 offensive linemen to the NFL. This year, Ramczyk can set another precedent. He is the first Wisconsin offensive lineman since Carimi in 2010 to be named a consensus All-American and First Team All-Big Ten.
Carimi’s NFL career never panned out, but if Ramczyk lands with the right team he could become a long-time anchor for an NFL line.