After the official retirement of Marshal Yanda this past Tuesday afternoon, there lies a big hole along the Ravens’ offensive line that needs to be filled. After Yanda owned the right guard spot for the past thirteen seasons, it is now up for grabs as the Ravens will find a way to sure up the open right guard spot.
Will the Ravens look to free agency? Will they rely on an in-house candidate like OG Ben Powers to fill the vacant spot? Or will they draft a lineman early on in the draft? If available at pick No. 28, Cesar Ruiz would provide a tremendous boost for the Raven offense.
The Michigan football program has done a very good job of developing their players and teaching them the skills needed to succeed at the professional level. A player like Ruiz has all of the tools needed to be a high-caliber offensive lineman at the next level.
Ruiz projects to be a center in the NFL but also has the ability to play either guard spot. Ruiz’s power, athleticism, and football I.Q. would allow him to be more versatile as an offensive lineman, and it would give the Ravens flexibility on how they could potentially use Ruiz.
IOL Cesar Ruiz, Michigan
2019 Stats: 31 career starts, 26 at center, 5 at right guard, second-team All-Big 10 in 2019, rated as the best pass-blocking center by PFF College, only 8 pressures allowed in 447 snaps
Ruiz has had a very good career throughout his time at Michigan. By undoubtedly being one of the nation’s best interior offensive linemen, Ruiz should expect to hear his name called early in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are Ruiz’s strengths and weaknesses, which provide insight into why his draft projection looks the way it does.
- Powerful lower body, which gives him leverage off of the snap
- Very athletic offensive lineman
- Demonstrates great tenacity from whistle to whistle
- Has very active hands and a strong initial pop
- Works well in space, shows nimbleness when moving laterally
- Very talented puller and consistently takes players out of the play when pulling
- Very good body control when taking on defensive linemen
- Has a consistent base in pass-protection
- Has the ability to schematically fit in any offense
- Needs to improve technical aspects of his game
- Needs to develop more finesse to complement his bully mentality
- Must improve his ability to take on multiple defenders at once
- Ruiz tends to take one defender at a time rather than eat up space and take multiple
- Doesn't have the best length as his arms are longer than some centers and guards, but shorter than most
- May have trouble against better interior defensive linemen, but should be able to manage nonetheless
Floor Comparison: James Daniels
Ceiling Comparison: Ryan Jensen
How Ruiz fits with the Ravens:
With the retirement of one of the best players in Ravens history in Marshal Yanda as well as the uncertainty surrounding the future health of former Ravens starting center Matt Skura, who tore his ACL, MCL, PCL and dislocated his kneecap all at once, drafting a bonafide offensive lineman early on in the draft wouldn't be a bad idea. Although Patrick Mekari played fairly well after he replaced Skura at center, there are a number of options Ravens coaches can use when drafting a versatile lineman like Ruiz.
Ruiz could be a plug-and-play at center while the right guard spot is competed upon. Matt Skura could very well end up winning back his starting center job (assuming he is healthy and the Ravens tender him). Patrick Mekari could keep his starting job at center and have the likes of Ruiz, Ben Powers, and possibly Skura compete for the right guard spot.
Though drafting Ruiz wouldn't be the sexiest pick at all, a need is filled one way or another with the Ravens also continuing to build upon an already successful offensive line unit.