An unlikely journey became a dream realized on Thursday night for Ryan Ramczyk.
The New Orleans Saints selected Ramczyk, the Wisconsin Badgers’ consensus first-team All-American and first-team All-Big Ten offensive lineman, with the 32nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft last Thursday.
“Obviously, I was surprised,” Ramczyk said Thursday night in a conference call with media. “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.”
After just one year of Power Five football, Ramczyk will compete to protect future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees.
“Oh, I’m ecstatic,” Ramczyk said about coming to New Orleans. “I’m so excited to be a part of the organization and coming there to complete and play with some of the greatest.”
What have you heard and seen surrounding the pick itself? Are Saints fans excited to see Ramczyk with the Saints?
Initially, I think Saints fans were somewhat shocked at this pick. The general belief is that Reuben Foster would have went at No. 32 had the 49ers not swooped in front. Still, Ramczyk fills a big need for the team, as current starting right tackle Zach Strief turns 34 in September. The team really needed to gain a reserve offensive tackle in this draft, and they arguably got the best prospect available. Head coach Sean Payton projects Ramczyk as a right tackle and felt good about his prognosis even after missing the combine and Wisconsin’s pro day. Drew Brees is getting older, and the Saints have a formidable offensive line to help keep him protected.
Will Ramczyk be expected to contribute immediately to New Orleans’s offense?
I firmly believe he can push Strief to become a starting option. Of course, we have to see how training camp and such plays out. There’s obviously a learning curve going from college to the pros, but Ramczyk fits the bill as a smart player that can learn quickly. They’ll take their time in not rushing him onto the field given his recent surgical procedures, but once he does, I’d expect him to hit the ground running once camp starts.
How do you expect Ramczyk to be used on the Saints’ offensive line?
For starters, he’s instantaneously the team’s third option at tackle. The Saints tend to carry only three during the season, and he should be an instant lock on the final 53-man roster. That being said, Ramczyk’s early days could be in the team’s Jumbo offense packages where they add a sixth OL in run formations. I would expect him to get work on special teams as well.
What have been the recent, general tendencies of New Orleans drafting offensive players and developing them as significant contributors, especially in the early rounds? Does Ramczyk fit any molds?
In general, the Saints are getting more players that offer versatility. We’ve seen that on the defensive side of the ball, particularly at linebacker. However, offensive linemen have had those particular traits in Payton’s offense over the years. The team has used the likes of Senio Kelmete at guard and center, Andrus Peat at tackle and guard, and should likely get Ramczyk at both tackle spots. Offensive line coach Dan Roushar is one of the best in the business and can help Ramczyk with his learning curve.
In your opinion, what’s the long-term trajectory for Ramczyk and his role in the Saints’ future?
I think the sky’s the limit for Ramczyk. I even went as far as saying he could start for the team as early as this season. In essence, the team has a starting right tackle once Strief retires, and he could be a staple for the next decade. Pairing him alongside free agency guard acquisition Larry Warford on the right side would be a perfect anchor for the Saints.