The New Orleans Saints weren’t the landing spot many mock drafts predicted for offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk.
Nonetheless, the consensus All-American and All-Big Ten standout was selected by the Saints with the 32nd overall pick on Thursday, becoming the 31st Wisconsin Badgers player to be drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Ramczyk spoke on a conference call for the Saints Thursday night immediately after being drafted. The Stevens Point, Wis., native admitted there wasn’t a ton of pre-draft interaction between him and the NFC South organization, and that he’s only received practice reps at right tackle in college. That could be an indication of where he could play while protecting future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
Here are some of the highlights:
What’s your reaction to coming to New Orleans?
“Oh, I’m ecstatic. I’m so excited to be a part of the organization and coming there to complete and play with some of the greatest.”
On the tradition of Wisconsin offensive linemen in the NFL
“Obviously, there’s a pretty great tradition coming out of Wisconsin for offensive linemen. There’s some greats. Wisconsin is known as a hard-working football team, and that’s just what we are. Obviously, you have some big shoes to fill and to continue that tradition is a pretty cool thing that I’m looking forward to working on.”
Are there any guys in the NFL from Wisconsin that you leaned on during this process?
“A little bit. I had a phone call with [Cleveland Browns left tackle] Joe Thomas. At our bowl game, I talked with [Dallas Cowboys center] Travis Frederick, so a little bit of communication there. Kind of got to talk to them a little bit and see what they had to say. It was helpful.”
How do you think you would project at right tackle?
“Yeah, I think I’d be able to flip over real easily. I think, obviously, it’s something you have to work on, have to change some things, but I’m excited to play that position if that’s where the coach wants me, if that’s where I can best help the team.”
Why did you end up starting at a D-III school?
“Initially out of high school, I didn't think football was for me. Took a little bit of time off and realized what I had given up, what football truly meant to me. Got back into a little Division-III school in my hometown just to play football again, and got to the point where I was like, ‘Alright, I want to compete within myself, I want to see how far I can go, I want to see how good I can really be, and that’s what motivated me to play at a higher level, and that’s why I transferred into Wisconsin.”
Sean Payton says Saints had Ryan Ramczyk graded as a top half 1st-rounder (NOLA.com/YouTube)
What initially made you think that you wanted to walk away from the game?
“I can’t pinpoint one thing, but coming out of high school, I was really into the trades or [being a] police officer, and that’s kind of where my focus was and I wanted to get to work right away and do that, so I think that might have been a reason.”
How does it feel to have gone from that to being a first-round draft pick?
[laughs] “It’s everything I have ever worked for now. It’s pretty incredible and can’t wait to get started.”
There are so few guys that make it going like that route you did. How does it feel that you were able to accomplish this now?
“It’s a really special thing. It means so much to my family, and I know the work’s just starting out, but I really cannot wait to get back to football and playing.”
You played a lot of power football up there in Wisconsin, and you look at the Saints recently just sign Adrian Peterson, and you got Mark Ingram here. What does it do for you knowing you’ll be blocking for these guys?
“It’s some of the greatest for sure. I’m very excited to be able to block for guys like that. Not everyone gets to do that. Very excited.”
How’s your hip?
“It’s really good. Rehab’s been solid. Combine re-checks are all good, so it’s doing really well.”
When the Saints get on the clock at 32, what were you thinking? Did you think it was over for you in round one? How surprised were you when the Saints called?
“Obviously, I was surprised. I haven’t had a ton of contact with them, but I was keeping my hopes alive, anything could happen, and then sure enough I got the call.”
What are some things you think fans should know about you before you get here?
“I think I classify myself as a hard-nosed, tough guy, working hard. I go about my business in the right away. I’m a team player. I love to do what’s best for the team and get the team winning.
Did you grow up a Packers fan?
“In Wisconsin, yeah. That’s who I grew up watching.”
What do you think about now teaming up with Adrian Peterson?
[laughs] “Haha, it’s going to be fun. I definitely got a new team now and ready to take it on full speed.”
Is your family already planning for your return up to Lambeau Field? (The Saints travel to Green Bay to face the Packers on Oct. 22.)
“I haven’t had as much time to talk to them about it, but yeah, it’s going to be awesome.”