Following the Russell Wilson trade the Denver Broncos seem to have a long term need at the tight end position. Now that Noah Fant is a member of the Seattle Seahawks Albert Okwuegbunam figures to earn a significant bump in playing time in his third season. The fourth round pick has flashed his first two years in the league, but he’s also missed games to injury both years. After Okwuegbunam the Broncos have Eric Tomlinson and Shaun Beyer. Tomlinson’s caught 18 career passes across stints with six different coaching staffs, and Shaun Beyer has yet to log a snap in the NFL after going undrafted out of Iowa last year.
Could Jeremy Ruckert make sense as the long term running mate for Okwuegbunam? Could he start over him?
Some of hardest guys to sell in a draft room when coaches become part of evaluation process are finesse pass-catching F-only tight ends. TE coaches generally want nothing to do with those guys. Scouts won’t have that issue with @OhioStateFB Jeremy Ruckert (@Jeremy_Ruckert1). pic.twitter.com/mEsBv8tIkm— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) September 9, 2021
Age: 22 on August 11th.
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 251 pounds | 40-time: N/A
Vertical Jump: N/A | Broad Jump: N/A
Wingspan: 79 1/4” | Arm length: 32 3/4” | Hands: 10 1/8”
Bench: 22 reps of 225 lbs.
A four star recruit and the second ranked tight end from the 2018 recruiting cycle, Ruckert quickly established himself as a dependable role player for the Buckeyes, even as opportunities for individual glory were hard to come by at first. He played in 12 games as a freshman and caught one pass for 13-yards. In year two Ruckert started three of the 14 games he played in and finished the year with 14 catches for 142 yards and four touchdowns. He was an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection the last two years. He did not run during workouts at the NFL Combine and Pro Day because of a foot injury.
Pick Six - Film Clips that encapsulate Ruckert’s current skillset.
- Good athlete with solid lateral quickness, agility, and explosiveness
- He’s wore a lot of hats for the Buckeyes, playing snaps as an inline tight end, H-back, slot receiver, and a few boundary reps.
- Good play strength, he’s able to bang with edge rushers on the line of scrimmage and he’s capable of working through contact in his stems.
- He looks like he’ll be a solid tertiary route runner in the league. OSU primarily used him on crossers, arrows, seam, and hitch routes. In limited exposure he shows the ability to separate from linebackers on crossers and out routes.
- Shows the ability to find a seam and swim past a defender to uncover downfield. Buckeyes did use him as a decoy on a post vs. Minnesota and he got open on a deep out vs. Penn State.
- He displays solid hands overall, solid catch radius and consistently secures the ball once it hits his mitts.
- Combination of physicality and athleticism make him a good option for chip and release routes.
- He’s a lunch pale type of blocker, relishes the dirty work and looks to bury an opponent if they give him the opportunity.
- Overall, a good run blocker at the point of attack when he’s playing inline. Has the physicality, length and footwork to lock up edge rushers. See reps against George Karlaftis. In limited exposure he looks like a good lead blocker as a fullback/H-back. Shows the mental acuity to adjust to moving targets and the athletic ability to change course and meet them.
- In limited exposure, a good pass blocker out of play action concepts with the anchor to hold up to burlier edge rushers, he does a nice job sliding to stay in front of his assignment.
- Suffered foot injury at Senior Bowl and was not able to run at NFL Combine or Pro Day.
- Across the four games exposure he missed more blocks than I expected. When he was inline hand placement was the biggest issue on these plays. He would also occasionally duck his head into contact on split zone blocks, which allowed defenders an opportunity to disengage.
- Overall, his use of hands and feet will need to improve for him to live up to expectations as a blocker. Hands occasionally late or wide, which gives opportunities to disengage. Feet can get too wide and cost him lateral movement once he’s zeroed in on an assignment.
- There’s a couple of missed catches that gave me pause, specifically the short arm against Maryland. Has not shown he’s anything special after the catch. Build up speed and lacks twitch, does not show the physicality as a ball carrier to suggest he’ll be a huge tackle breaker in league.
A jack of all trades, master of none type. Ruckert’s an intriguing option in this tight end class because he profiles as a developmental starter who is scheme versatile. He has plenty of snaps as an Y, H, and slot for the Buckeyes and should develop into a capable, if unexciting TE1 if he can iron out his technical issues as a blocker.
While Ruckert wasn’t a featured weapon in the passing game because of the talent around him on the Buckeyes, he shows enough on tape to suggest he can become a dependable tertiary option for Russell Wilson. I believe he’ll be at his best in the short to intermediate area of the field. Ruckert’s work as a blocker does concern me a bit and should temper any hope that he’ll beat Okwuegbunam for a starting job early in his career. With that said, he has the traits to become one of the better blocking tight ends in the league if given time.
Do you want the Broncos to draft Jeremy Ruckert?
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