The problem isn’t that he’s not a first-round talent. He is. Feet. Leverage. Balance. Strength. Ryan Ramcyzk is a good left tackle in a garbage left tackle class, which means he’s rare. And when you’re rare, you’re valuable. When you’re valuable, you can let the market come to you.
Ninety-eight times out of 100, basically, it also means you jump. It’s a business decision, and when your body is your business, the clock is ticking.
Which brings us to the problem: Namely, that the body of Wisconsin’s star blocker looks like one giant Christmas cracker of who-the-hell-knows, a puppy that could pop anytime. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the junior tackle needs surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip, a tear he’s been playing through — and playing well through, it should be noted — for months now.
— Brian Johannes (@Draft_Brian) November 18, 2016
“He’s got some holes — every one of those tackles do,” longtime evaluator Dan Shonka, general manager of Ourlads.com scouting service, told Land of 10. “The thing is, this is about the weakest year (for tackles) in quite a ways.”
Ourlads likes him as a late first-rounder, assuming he’s in one piece. Most online pundits peg the 6-foot-6 Ramcyzk, who was charged with allowing only one sack and just three quarterback hits all season by Pro Football Focus, as a late first-round sort of buy — projecting him to be tapped somewhere between 20 and 30 in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Because this, really, is the crux of the deal: Is it worth the jump?
According to data tracked by Spotrac.com, players taken between Nos. 20-30 in last spring’s draft took home, on average, a contract worth $9.527 million, with much of that money guaranteed.
The average second-round pick: $4.8 million, with roughly half of that guaranteed. The average third-round selection: $3.1 million, with only about a quarter of that guaranteed.
“The Ramcyzk kid, I’ve heard good things about, being one of the better tackles in the country,” offered longtime pro scout Russ Lande of GM Jr Scouting. “I don’t know if that means (he’s a) first-rounder, because there’s a bunch of tackles. Because (the projections) are always conservative, I’d bet they’ll say second or third round, something in that range.”
And the plot thickens. Which means these questions, presumably, are the ones that should be bubbling in the Ramcyzk camp as the Badgers (10-3) prepare for the Cotton Bowl:
- Assuming labrum surgery has me on the shelf for four months, am I still a first-round look even if I don’t take a snap between Jan. 3 and April 3?
- Are teams still going to think me to be worth that contract slot if I’m NOT fully healed?
- Or do I just say to heck with it and try to hold off surgery, work through this thing through the late winter and early spring, even if it’s killing me?
The answers to the above are probably not, probably not — and almost certainly not. Regardless, the timing stinks: For a potential draftee, January to April is a four-month job interview, a 16-week audition broken up into stages. Senior Bowl. Combine. Pro Days. Interviews. Peers against peers. No stone is left unturned, no blemish unrecorded.
Cardinal Sin No. 1 in the NFL Draft: Don’t throw money at damaged goods. An injured prospect is a sunk investment.
Ramczyk has been told this, too, which might explain why admitted to reporters this week that his hip was a “factor” as to whether or not he’d declare for the draft his junior season. The deadline is Jan. 18.
“Frankly, I’d like to see him stay in another year to get another year of major college experience,” Shonka said. “But he’s got a lot of things that he does naturally better than a lot of guys in this draft.
“But I don’t want to give you a flat answer. I’d love to see him stay in, but I could see him coming out.”
As the salary cap is unforgiving, many scouts are, too. NFL teams are willing overlook just about anything (hello, Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill), if you can deliver the goods.
Everything that is, except a bad body.