DALLAS - Six years ago when the Dallas Cowboys drafted Tyron Smith ninth overall, it was clear they were committed to rebuilding the offensive line. So when they used two more first round picks in 2013 and 2014 on Travis Frederick and Zack Martin, it came as only a marginal surprise since drafting a center with you first pick is rarely seen and, you know, Jerry Jones wanted to take Johnny Manziel instead of Martin.
Cooler heads prevailed and with the three first round linemen draftees, Dallas quickly had one of the youngest and best offensive lines in football.
The result was two leading rushers in three years, when DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott claimed the title in 2014 and 2016, respectively. The success the Cowboys started having up front even paved the way for a young quarterback from Mississippi State named Dak Prescott to snatch the starting job away from Tony Romo.
Don’t think for one second this job is Prescott’s without the offensive line. Prescott was rarely under duress last year, and as a result, led the Cowboys to the best record in the NFC.
The model of building the castle from the gate up is one other teams with offensive line troubles will look at, and many of them will stare at the same name on their white board to lead the construction efforts in the coming weeks – Ryan Ramcyzk.
Ramczyk was Wisconsin’s anchor at left tackle in 2016, earning All-Big Ten and AP All-American Honors. At 6’6, 310 pounds, Ramcyzk is built like a brick wall who’s sole purpose is to open running lanes and protect the quarterback.
He is exceptionally quick out of his stance and distributes his weight evenly which allows him to accelerate off the ball.
Just ask Michigan State's defensive end.
Whether it’s pass or run blocking, Ramcyzk will be a valuable commodity. In red zone situations, Ramcyzk uses his strength and first step acceleration to pancake defensive ends and tackles, opening up creases for the running back to find paydirt.
In the open field, Ramcyzk is able to set the edge on zones and power sweeps. His athleticism and quick feet keep him from getting caught up in traffic and propel him to the second level.
Even against elite defenses like LSU.
In pass protection, Ramcyzk has above average footwork that allows him to adjust to swim moves and stunts. His lateral movement is an advantage, especially protecting the quarterback’s blindside. His first punch is just enough to knock defenders off balance, allowing Ramcyzk to get a grip and re-direct blitzers.
And every quarterback loves a clean pocket.
One potential problem Ramcyzk will face in the NFL is defensive ends and edge rushers with length and problematic wingspans. Because Ramcyzk does not have considerable length in his arms and shoulders, this allows the opposition to get the first jab and create separation.
It's a minor flaw, however, in an otherwise polished, NFL-ready offensive tackle. Expect Ramcyzk to make an immediate impact in his rookie season, no matter the team that drafts him.
Should Jerry use another first round pick on an offensive lineman? Share your thoughts with Reece on Twitter @ReeceWaddell15.
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