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2020 NFL Draft profile: Michigan OL Cesar Ruiz

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After taking the time to formally interview Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz at the NFL Combine there remains the possibility that the Denver Broncos aren’t done adding offensive linemen.

Michigan v Ohio State
Could the Broncos add a young Wolverine to their line?
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Graham Glasgow is in, Conner McGovern is out. While the shuffle may wind up being a net win for the Broncos’ offensive line, it leaves at least one of the spots in mystery. If Glasgow is the new starting Center, does Elijah Wilkinson take over at guard? If Glasgow is the right guard, does Patrick Morris take over the pivot?

Only Munchak knows, and after taking the time to formally interview Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz at the NFL Combine there remains the possibility that the Broncos aren’t done adding Wolverines to the offense.

Scouting Report:

  • Very Good athleticism, should be able to contribute on the second level and in space.
  • His lateral quickness and feet are good for a center, he’ll be able to slide and adjust.
  • Good competitive toughness, he’s an SOB.
  • Experienced for such a young player, more than 2,000 snaps played.
  • Very good play strength shows up in his anchor and how he absorbs a rush. Should only improve with time.
  • Very good hands, they’re quick and he has good grip strength.
  • Good on gap blocks, he’s at his best given an assignment and told to bury the opponent.
  • Solid on zone blocks, very good on doubles, but needs to improve at climbing, reaching on zone runs is still a work in progress.
  • Very good anchor, his base is impressive.
  • Adequate mental processing. He sees stunts and serves as a communicator pre-snap, but will need to improve at keeping his eyes up and adjusting to action after the ball is in play.
  • Will need to improve technique, such as hand placement and playing within himself.
  • 20-years old until June.

What I’ve heard/read:

Cesar Ruiz IOL Michigan - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Kyle Crabbs

Cesar Ruiz is a rock solid center prospect who should comfortably slot into any kind of offensive system at the NFL level. Ruiz brings desirable strength in one on one scenarios but also provides nimble quickness as a puller and in pass protection. His lack of length regulates him to manning the middle as a center only, but he’s a cerebral and polished player leaving Michigan and should provide stability and effective communication at the heart of whichever offensive line he calls home.

Cesar Ruiz IOL Michigan - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Jordan Reid

Cesar Ruiz entered Ann Arbor with plenty of hype and he firmly lived up to it. One of the younger draft prospects in this class, he will enter rookie mini-camp as a 20-year-old player. He got better as the year progressed and that’s exactly what you want to see from a younger prospect who started to figure the game out as he gained more reps. With experience at both center and guard, Ruiz has the versatility in order to play both on the next level.

His strong hands and superior ability to latch on to win quick in a phone booth makes him a better fit in a man/power-based blocking scheme, but there’s an argument that can be made that he’s scheme proof and can play in any type. Ruiz projects as a top-40 selection, who should go on to be a starter very quickly during his career and go on to have a long lasting career at either guard or center.

Cesar Ruiz IOL Michigan - Draft Player Profile | The Draft Network - Joe Marino

Cesar Ruiz enters the NFL after starting 31 games for Michigan with 26 of those coming at center and five at right guard. A blend of size, power, mobility and technique, Ruiz projects favorably to any interior spot along the offensive line at the next level. For such a massive man, Ruiz displays outstanding mobility and he is highly effective working laterally and in space. His versatility extends beyond just the ability to play any spot along the interior, he has the attributes needed to thrive in both gap and zone blocking run schemes. Ruiz does have room to grow with some timing elements in pass protection and he could benefit from dropping some bad weight on his frame. Ruiz projects as an early impact starter in the NFL with the upside to become the pillar of an NFL offensive line for years to come.

PFF Draft Guide - Mike Renner

It’s rare to see a player as young as Ruiz have as few weaknesses as he does. While he may not ‘wow’ as much as others in this class, offensive line play is far more about not losing than it is winning big.

NFL Draft & Combine Profile - Cesar Ruiz | NFL.com

Athletic and tenacious with the combination of skills and technique to fit into a variety of blocking schemes on the next level. Ruiz wins early with initial quickness and fast hands into first contact. He works to convert early advantages into wins. He’s consistent in securing down-blocks and has the athletic traits to become a second-level factor. He’ll give some ground to power rushers and needs help against wide-bodies, but the tape checks out. Ruiz has early starting potential and should develop into a good pro with guard/center flexibility.

Why he fits

As such a young player, it’s intriguing to think about what Mike Munchak could do for Ruiz down the road. He’s already an elite athlete for a pivot and should continue to get better with an NFL strength program and professional coaching.

With the Broncos set to run a hybrid gap/zone blocking scheme once again in 2020. Adding a player like Cesar Ruiz would give them an early starter at center or guard and flexibility to figure out how best to use Graham Glasgow. In time, the two Wolverines and Dalton Risner could provide a solid wall in front of Drew Lock.

Ruiz is a high ceiling prospect.

Final Thoughts

He’s the only interior offensive lineman I had in my Post-Combine First Round Big Board, and while I do have some concerns about positional value on Day 1 he’s about as exciting as a Center prospect gets. I’d love to have him in orange and blue for years to come.