Without question, the Denver Broncos’ offensive line needed some upgrades heading into the 2017 offseason.
Through free agency, the Broncos made some improvements by signing guard Ronald Leary from Dallas and Menelik Watson from Oakland. But during free agency, Denver allowed former starter Russell Okung to test the market by declining his team-option for 2017. As a result, Okung signed with the Los Angeles Chargers and Denver is now without a starting left tackle after passing on other free agent options.
With such a great need at LT, the Broncos could turn to the draft to fill the hole at left tackle. One of the prospects Denver could have its eye on is former Wisconsin tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The OT prospect had a pre-draft visit with the Broncos on April 18.
Ramczyk is often seen as the best offensive tackle prospect in the draft, earning first-team All-American honors during the 2016 college season. Ramczyk was a dominate tackle for the Badgers and at 6-foot-6, 310 lbs is the ideal size for a team’s left tackle.
Playing against some of the elite talent in the NCAA, Ramczyk appears ready to take on NFL pass rushers. Throughout the duration of the season, Ramczyk surrendered only one sack while playing against potential first round pass rushing prospects.
Ramczyk does come with some weaknesses in his game that could hinder his transition to the pros.
First and foremost are the health concerns. Ramczyk underwent arthroscopic surgery on his hip to repair a torn labrum. Ramczyk should be ready by the time training camp starts, but the recovery of the surgery has held him out of just about all offseason activities leading up to the draft.
Hip injuries, especially for offensive linemen, can often linger or flare up if the injury is rushed. Considering Broncos’ star center Matt Paradis is undergoing a similar recovery, having two offensive linemen coming off hip surgeries could be troublesome for keeping the unit together and healthy.
Ramczyk, though effective with speed rushers, has shown a tendency to struggle with pass rushers with an arsenal of pass rushing moves. He will need to fine-tune his technique before he can keep Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa out of the backfield.
What makes Ramczyk such an intriguing prospect for the Broncos specifically is that he could possibly be available when Denver is on the clock at #20. Health concerns coupled with being a relatively weaker offensive lineman class could have teams passing on Ramczyk.
And having the top offensive tackle prospect fall into one’s lap with the 20th pick in the first round is a dream scenario for most teams.
Assuming he can recover fully from his offseason hip surgery, Ramczyk would be a great pick for Denver and could possibly anchor the LT position for the next ten years. If the Broncos can stay put in the first round and still get him, that would make the selection even better.