New York Giants: Who to Pick at No. 23?

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 02: Offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk of Wisconsin answers questions from the media on Day 2 of the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 2, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

It’s finally here! NFL Draft week is upon us. With the draft in a matter of days, it’s time to take a look at who the New York Giants should take with the 23rd pick in the draft. According to credible mock drafts and sources, the positions being linked to the Giants are offensive tackle, tight-end and linebacker. For this article, I’ll be taking a look at the three first round tackles being associated with the Giants.

New York Giants: Who to Pick at No. 23?

The three tackles getting the most attention are Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk, Utah’s Garrett Bolles and Alabama’s Cam Robinson. I’ll be looking at four categories to determine which offensive tackle is the best fit for the Giants in the first round. First, I’ll look at their basics. That includes their height, weight, athletic ability and accolades. Secondly is their ability to run block. Next is their ability in pass protection. Lastly, I’ll be looking at any intangibles, overall grade and scheme fit.

Ramczyk, Bolles or Robinson?

Basics

Robinson is a beast of a man. He comes in at 6’6 and weighing 322 pounds. He has an insanely long reach with his 35 ½” arm length and 82 5/8” wingspan. Now, as expected from a man his size, he’s not that athletic.  He tested alright at the combine, but my biggest issue with his athletic ability is something they don’t test for, balance. If you watch tape of Robinson, you’ll find him on the ground often, overextending himself, and just plain lunging sometimes. For a tackle, balance is the most important attribute that a player needs. However, even with his faults, Robinson is a decorated lineman. He won the Outland Trophy this year, the award given to the nation’s “best” interior lineman. He was also first Team All-American this year and two time first Team All-SEC the last two years.

Utah’s Garrett Bolles draft stock skyrocketed when he worked out at the NFL Combine in March. He led all offensive lineman in the three-Cone drill with a time of 7.29 seconds. He also came in second in the 40 yard dash with a time of 4.95 seconds. Bolles is a little smaller than Robinson, coming in at 6’5 and weighing 297 pounds. Also, unlike Robinson, there is not a concern about Bolles’ balance. Some plays on film he was off-balanced, but that was due to poor technique, not athletic ability. Bolles is not as decorated of a player as Robinson is, but he was still first Team All-Pac 12 this year.

Finally, we get to the player that didn’t even work out at the Combine. Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk was unable to perform in March due to having hip surgery earlier this off-season. So everything I’ll be talking about in terms of athletic ability will be from what I saw on film. What I saw was a pretty good athlete at offensive tackle. He was able to change direction extremely well. He did lunge at times, which is something that needs to be fixed. Overall though, he’s a solid athlete. He comes in right between Robinson and Bolles, at 6’5 and weighing 310 pounds. Like Robinson, he was also named first Team All-American this year, as well as first Team All-Big Ten. His hip injury is a red flag. However, the surgery was early enough in the off-season that he should be back in early summer as long as there is no setbacks. His longevity is in question though. From talking with Charlie Campbell of Walterfootball.com, teams aren’t just concerned about his hip but also about future leg injuries.

Run Blocking

When Ryan Ramczyk doesn’t lunge, and keeps his base, he’s as good of a run blocker as any lineman in this class. That’s proven by ProFootballFocus’ “Run Blocking Success %” listed below.

Player Team Pos. Run Block Success %
Ramczyk, Ryan Wisconsin OT 94.0
Bolles, Garrett Utah OT 93.0
Robinson, Cam Alabama OT/OG 88.3

 

As you can see from the chart, Ramczyk is statistically a better run blocker than both Bolles and Robinson. What that chart doesn’t show is just how good Ramczyk is in all aspects of run blocking. Not only is Ramczyk good at traditional, big-on-big, old school style run blocking, which he is. He explodes out of his stance with power and can drive block defenders. He’s also athletic enough to reach block and block in zone schemes. He’s an effective blocker when pulling with the tackle box and he can work in space, as long as he doesn’t lunge. The only real issue I have with his blocking, besides the occasional lunge, is that he doesn’t use his hands enough when reach blocking.

Bolles, who is second on the list, is not as good as his statistic suggests. Although he got better as a run blocker throughout the year, he has a hard time drive blocking and getting movement. Where he really excels as a blocker is when he’s able to use his athletic ability when reach blocking and blocking in space, which he does better than either of the other two tackles. His technique is fine and his hand placement is good. He does a great job getting his hands inside so he’s able to control his defender.

Finally we get to Robinson, who the ProFootballFocus statistic did not look kindly upon. However, this statistic is misleading. Robinson is an elite run blocker when blocking head-to-head and drive blocking. He’s an old school bulldozer of a lineman. He fires out with power, he gets his hands inside and he drives his feet. However, as you’d expect, his downfall is his athletic ability. He’s not the best in space, he’s not that good at pulling and speedy defenders will give him an issue.

Pass Protection

You’d be surprised if I told you that Cam Robinson, the player not known for his athletic ability, was ranked the highest of the three tackle prospects in ProFootballFocus’ Pass Blocking Efficiency statistic. Yet, that’s the truth!

Player Team Pos. PBE 3rd Down PBE
Robinson, Cam Alabama OT/OG 97.8 96.1
Ramczyk, Ryan Wisconsin OT 97.5 96.9
Bolles, Garrett Utah OT 96.4 93.5

 

But, like the run blocking statistic before, I don’t necessarily agree that Robinson is the best pass blocker of the bunch.  He did do a great job against Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett this year, holding him without a sack the entire game. However, Garrett only had sacks in four of his 11 games last year, so that doesn’t make him an elite pass blocking tackle. His footwork is at the level you’d want to see out of an offensive tackle prospect. Like in the run game, his hands are violent and he uses them well. Where he does have an issue is re-directing. Quick inside moves absolutely killed him on film. He could ride most edge rushers out if the defender just tried to beat him with their speed. It was the agile defenders that could get him going one way and then switch that had the biggest impact against him. Unfortunately for him, that is going to be a big issue at the next level.

Ramczyk, who is ranked second in that statistic, is my favorite pass blocker of the bunch. His footwork was excellent and his balance was great. Even when defenders got him off-balanced, he still rarely let up a sack. He had no problem picking up stunts and he looked like a true left tackle. His only issue is that he doesn’t fire his hands or punch when pass blocking. At the next level, this will allow pass rushers with explosive power to give him some problems. Due to his lack of a punch, that will allow those rusher to get inside his frame which will cause an issue. However, like I said, he’s still the best of the bunch.

When it comes to Bolles, I agree with the statistic above. He is the worst pass blocker of the three. The reason for this, more than anything else, is technique. 2016 was Garrett Bolles’ first year at the FBS level, let alone first year as a starter at that level. I’m not expecting his technique to be that good with that little of experience. Obviously, as previously mentioned, he’s an elite athlete. He can be coached up to be a fantastic pass blocker. The only question is, how long is that going to take? Bolles is already going to be 25 years old when the 2017 season starts. Athletic ability is the first thing to go with age. Considering that’s his big selling point, the Giants will only have a few years to get him to his full potential.

Summary

As previously mentioned, Garrett Bolles’ ceiling is almost limitless due to his athletic ability. The only thing hindering that is his age. I’ve seen some reports that people are questioning his love for the game due to the unorthodox route he took to get where he is today, but I’m not buying it. Pretty much the story is that Bolles’ took a little while for him to figure out his path in life. Once he did though, he went to a JUCO school for two years and jumped to Utah in 2016. My take on that is that everyone has their own path. I don’t hold anything against him for him needing a little bit longer to get it all together.

Robinson also has an off the field concern. He was charged with felony weapons and gun charges last off-season. Luckily for him, the prosecutor dropped the charges and took mercy on him. When he becomes a NFL player, I don’t think that level of mercy will be shown again. He needs to make sure he doesn’t get into those positions once he becomes a pro.

Ramczyk’s only issue is his hip, but like I mentioned he should be ready by the summer. If the injury was worse and it was going to hold him out until the start of the season, then I would be more concerned. Rookie’s need to be on the practice field so they can learn and adjust to the game, as long as their name isn’t Joey Bosa apparently. From all of the reports I’m seeing it doesn’t look like Ramczyk’s hip injury is going to be a problem.

So after all of this, who should the Giants take with the 23rd pick? Wisconsin’s Ryan Ramczyk! He is the only true answer for the Giants at offensive lineman. Cam Robinson is most likely going to be a guard at the next level and the Giants don’t really need help at that position. Justin Pugh has been very good the past few years and John Jerry was good enough to warrant a starting position in 2017. Our biggest need on the line is left tackle. If we can get a left tackle, then Ereck Flowers can move to right tackle, a position I feel he’d be more of a natural fit in.

Bolles could fill that role of a left tackle, but how long is it going to take for him to reach his potential? Giants’ General Manager, Jerry Reese, has already come out and said that quarterback Eli Manning is coming towards the end of his career. Realistically with Manning being 36 years old, he only has another year or two. Once those years are up, the Giants contender window closes for a bit. Taking a project player like Bolles, even though he could end up being the best of the bunch, is just not a luxury we have at the moment.

That’s why Ryan Ramczyk is the best choice in the first round. He can come in and start day one at left tackle. I understand that his longevity is in question, but we don’t need him to be a 10 year starter for us at left tackle. He would solidify our line and hopefully give the Giants’ a chance to have another run or two at a Super Bowl while we still have Eli.  However, reports are that the Giants prefer Garrett Bolles. Obviously, I’d disagree with that choice. Luckily, if we do choose Bolles, we have an excellent offensive line coach in Mike Solari. Solari is in his second season with us. Before coming to the Giants in 2016 he served as the Packers assistant line coach in 2015 and was the offensive line coach in San Francisco under coach Harbaugh. He has more coaching credits than that, considering he’s been coaching since the mid-70’s, but his recent credentials are enough to show that he knows what he is doing. Hopefully Jerry Reese and the rest of the Giants organization makes the right choice on April 27th but you all know where I stand on who we should take.

Thanks for reading the article. Make sure to keep checking Last Word on Sports NFL for my articles on which tight-end and linebackers the Giants should take with the 23rd pick. I mentioned ProFootballFocus’ draft statistics in the article. If you would like to learn more about their unique draft book you can find it here https://www.profootballfocus.com/draftpass17/

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