The Michigan Wolverines are sending 11 players to the NFL Combine this year as the draft process rolls along. While impressive, we have thought that their pool of talent was made up of players that would start coming off the board on day two, but that may not be the case for interior lineman Cesar Ruiz.
Ruiz, who declared early for the 2020 NFL Draft after the Citrus Bowl against Alabama, has been steadily climbing up draft boards since his decision was made. ESPN’s Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft on Tuesday, which has Ruiz coming off the board with the last pick in the first round to the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
“I really like Ruiz’s film from last season, and I have a higher grade on him now than I did on the 2019 class’ top center Garrett Bradbury last year,” Kiper writes ($). It’s just tough to project where centers will land because few teams actually need them. Ruiz, who also started a few games at guard in college, is an outstanding pass-blocker. The Chiefs could upgrade at center over Austin Reiter or put Ruiz at guard in place of veteran Stefen Wisniewski, who is a free agent. Both had tough games in the Super Bowl win against a spectacular 49ers defensive line. Edge-rusher and cornerback are other possibilities here.”
Ruiz is arguably the best pass-blocking center in this draft class and as more teams turn on the tape, his value should only continue to increase. Centers usually do not get drafted all that high unless they also have the ability to slide over and play guard, which is something that Ruiz showed a bit in his time in Ann Arbor, as well.
Things can change once the combine and pro day circuits are complete, but Ruiz feels like a good bet to be the first Wolverine off the board on draft weekend with EDGE Joshua Uche, wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and fellow interior linemate Ben Bredeson also candidates to be day two selections.
The 2020 NFL Draft is set to kick off on April 23 from Las Vegas.