Over the last decade, an offensive lineman drafted out of the University of Wisconsin has reached a Pro Bowl 13 times. Granted, 10 of those tickets were punched by Joe Thomas alone, but the point still stands.
You draft what you trust.
Defensive tackles? SEC West. Cornerbacks? LSU. Tight ends? Miami.
Plows? Badgers. Every time.
Brands matter. Ryan Ramczyk can’t lift anything heavier than a pony keg for a few months. According to NFL draft guru Mel Kiper, he’s going wind up getting plucked in the first round anyway.
The longtime ESPN analyst on Thursday released his 2017 Mock Draft 1.0, and Ramczyk, a 6-foot-6 junior with dancer’s feet but a bum hip, was squarely in the picture. Even though the Badgers’ left tackle can’t undergo football activities for another 3 1/2 months after the Jan. 5 surgery, Kiper projected Ramczyk to the New York Giants with the No. 23 pick overall:
Picking another tackle would allow the Giants to move 2015 top-10 pick Ereck Flowers over to the right side — he struggled in 2016. Ramczyk, who has had an amazing path to the NFL, is a 6-6, 314-pound road grader with all the traits of an NFL starter, but he’s not a talent on the level of former Badger Joe Thomas (who is?). New York could also target a pass-rusher or tight end (none are off the board so far).
Not bad for a kid on crutches.
Ramczyk, who didn’t let a wonky labrum stop him from a slot on the All-Big Ten first-team offense, plans to be in Indianapolis for the draft combine Feb. 28-March 6, anyway. He’ll do the underwear dance, shake hands, and meet teams face-to-face. But he can’t do any drills.
It’s rare for a first-rounder to garner that kind of investment, sight unseen. Then again, this spring, decent tackles — one of the sexier positions on an NFL roster — will be a pretty rare find themselves.
Mel Kiper Jr. says he sees only three first-round OTs: Alabama’s Cam Robinson, Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk & Utah’s Garett Bowles.
— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) January 19, 2017
During a teleconference Thursday, Kiper Jr. said that he only sees “three tackles (going) in the first round … it’s probably a mediocre year for offensive tackles in general.”
Ramczyk’s teammates, though? Different story. Fan favorites such as OLBs T.J. Watt and Vince Biegel, DBs Leo Musso and Sojourn Shelton, and RB Corey Clement are all jumping into deeper — and less forgiving — positional pools.
Kiper Jr. has Clement, for example, ranked as the 10th-best back on his board, a likely third- or fourth-round choice.
“He moves the chains, he’s got good body lean,” the analyst noted.
Biegel, meanwhile, sits at No. 8 overall among Kiper Jr.’s outside linebacker targets. CBSSports.com currently pegs Biegel as the 11th-best option and a potential fourth-rounder, and ranks Watt No. 4 at his position and a probable second-rounder.
“Biegel gives you everything he has,” Kiper Jr. said. “He’s 100 miles per hour (going) into that backfield. He’s a pretty good pass-rusher, gives you some coverage sacks.
“I think both (he and Clement look like) early Day 3. You know what you’re getting there … they’re productive, they give you great effort and great intensity. Clement and Biegel are the kind of guys you can win a lot of games with.”
You draft what you trust. And some brands matter more than others.