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NFL Draft 2017: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk selected by New Orleans Saints in first round

What a crazy journey for the Stevens Point native.

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NCAA Football: Cotton Bowl-Wisconsin vs Western Michigan Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Ramczyk’s amazing football journey will now take him to the NFC South.

The New Orleans Saints drafted the Wisconsin Badgers offensive tackle with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft on Thursday. The 6’6, 310-pound offensive tackle was in attendance at the draft in Philadelphia.

Ramczyk’s path to playing professional football is unique. He initially went to Winona State after earning first-team all-state honors by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association but left the Division-II program.

After attending two technical colleges, Ramczyk went to Division-III UW-Stevens Point and played football again, earning all-conference honors both seasons. The Stevens Point native transferred to Wisconsin initially as a walk-on but was awarded a scholarship before the 2015 season.

After sitting out that season due to NCAA transfer rules, Ramczyk earned consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten honors in 2016, his only season playing Division-I football. Pro Football Focus graded his run-blocking at 84.6, best among FBS offensive tackles.

Ramczyk declared for the NFL Draft in early January, a week or so after UW’s 24-16 win over Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl . He only performed bench press (25 reps at 225 pounds) at the NFL Scouting Combine in February due to his recovery from hip surgery earlier this year.

The initial report from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Bob McGinn stated the procedure would be for a torn labrum in his hip. Ramczyk in late December confirmed it was a hip impingement and that he had played through the injury since early in the season.

“I’ve been healthy enough to play all season,” Ramczyk told reporters on Dec. 21. “It’s just kind of a thing that’s annoying, so we’ll see what I got to do after the season.”

Ramczyk also did not participate in any physical drills during Wisconsin’s pro day on March 15 but was in attendance. Despite the injury, Ramczyk’s stock still remained in the first round in many mock drafts.

Film Breakdown: What Makes Ryan Ramczyk a Top NFL Prospect (Wisconsin Badgers/YouTube)

Ramczyk is the 31st former Badger to be drafted in the first round after outside linebacker T.J. Watt was drafted two picks earlier on Thursday at No. 30.

Ramczyk joins an honorable list of former Wisconsin linemen that have been drafted in the first round including Travis Frederick (2013), Kevin Zeitler (2012), Gabe Carimi (2011), Joe Thomas (2007), Chris McIntosh (2000), Aaron Gibson (1999), Paul Gruber (1988), Ray Snell (1980), and Dennis Lick (1976).

Watt and Ramczyk are the fifth combination of Badgers to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft and the first since J.J. Watt and Gabe Carimi in 2011. Other Badgers selected together in the first round include cornerback Jamar Fletcher and running back Michael Bennett (2001), running back Ron Dayne and offensive lineman Chris McIntosh (2000), and wide receiver Al Toon, defensive back Richard Johnson, and defensive lineman Darryl Sims (1985).