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2020 NFL Draft profile: What Michigan IOL Cesar Ruiz brings to the New Orleans Saints

Ruiz worked himself into this draft’s top interior offensive line prospect.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Cesar Ruiz was the top center in the country coming out of high school and heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, the Michigan Wolverines product looks like the best interior line prospect that this class has to offer. The pre-draft process has been (predictably) extremely positive for him and all we have seen is his stock rise since he declared early shortly after Michigan’s trip to the Citrus Bowl.

Here is Ruiz’s background and what he brings to the table as a prospect after being selected with the 24th overall pick by the New Orleans Saints.

Info

Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 307 pounds

School: Michigan

Position: Interior Offensive Line

Projected: 1st-2nd round

Combine Results: 5.08-second 40-yard dash | 28 bench press reps | 33 inch vertical jump | 113 inch broad jump | 7.91-second cone drill | 4.64-second 20-yard shuttle

Player Comparison: James Daniels

How he fits in with the Saints

You love to see good players wind up in good organizations and Ruiz should slide right in as a day-one starter for New Orleans snapping to Drew Brees. This move allows the Saints to kick Erik McCoy over to guard and gives them a really nice young combo on the interior as they look to keep their Super Bowl window open.

Strengths

  • Has the perfect combination of strength and athleticism and moves crisply and with ease
  • His ability to anchor and stay balanced are impressive and competes through the whistle against who he is assigned to take out
  • Little-to-no wasted movement in his pulls and footwork is extremely strong
  • Provides versatility with the ability to slide over to guard or center with ease, three-years of starting experience at Michigan
  • Pro Football Focus graded him as the best pass blocking center in the country this past season
  • Packs a really compact, tight punch off the snap
  • Had some non-ideal weight on his frame, but slimmed down over 10 pounds and measured in at 307 at the NFL Combine. Michigan had him at 319 pounds on the 2019 roster.

Weaknesses

  • His body build is compact and his arm length has been mentioned by scouts as something that might hold him back. This affects his ability to reach across and get to a target that is not lined up directly across from him.
  • Nearly everyone at the next level is big and athletic, so he will have to develop and sharpen some of the finer points of his game to succeed in the NFL.
  • Sometimes he gets a little bout of happy feet in pass protection.
  • Bull rushers and physical, twitchy specimens on the defensive line are going to to take some time to adjust to.

Overview

Ruiz, who played in 36 career games at Michigan with 31 starts, possesses the combination of power and athletic traits mixed with positional versatility to be a high-floor starter in the NFL. His skill-set does not feel scheme-dependent and his ability to move and be a problem at the second level of a defense makes him a standout in this draft class and it would be somewhat surprising at this point if he did not hear his name called on night one. Ruiz is polished and experienced and should find himself anchoring an NFL offensive line for years to come with the ability to slide over to guard if need be.

Ruiz has checked nearly all the boxes in the pre-draft process and has seen his stock skyrocket as a result. An NFL source told us prior to his entrance that if he were to declare, their team would have a top-40 grade on him as a prospect. The tape — and how he has been viewed by the scouting community nationally — backs all of that up. His rise up boards and standing as one of the safer selections in the late first/early second round range reminds me of Frank Ragnow of the Detroit Lions a few seasons back.