Cesar Ruiz
AP Photo/Tony Ding

Taking a look at Michigan center Cesar Ruiz, who could be someone the New York Giants have their eye on in the upcoming draft’s second round.

Ryan Honey

This past weekend, we learned the New York Giants would reportedly be meeting with Michigan center Cesar Ruiz via FaceTime. This is becoming the standard for teams this offseason, considering the coronavirus pandemic is suppressing and halting in-person interaction.

Ruiz is an extremely talented interior lineman who, like all draft prospects coming out of college, needs some work. But regardless of what he must improve, he’s definitely someone the Giants could look into drafting when the second round (No. 36 overall pick) comes along. After seeing how the offensive line performed the last few seasons, an improved group of “hog mollies” isn’t just a desire, but an absolute necessity.

Let’s take a look at what Ruiz has to offer and evaluate this potential addition to the Giants roster.

The basics

At 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, Ruiz has good size but not the best when compared to other centers in this draft. Wisconsin’s Tyler Biadasz, who the Giants could also take at No. 36 overall, comes in at 6-foot-4, 314 pounds. The metrics for Ruiz are right around the same as Biadasz though. The Michigan Wolverine possesses 33.125-inch arms and 11-inch hands in comparison to Biadasz’s 32.25-inch arms and 10-inch hands.

Both have right around the same wingspan as well, totaling near 80 inches in those regards.

At the NFL Scouting Combine, Ruiz ran a 5.08 40-yard dash, recorded a 33-inch vertical, and notched 28 reps on the bench press. For reference, Jason Kelce of the Eagles, who was just named a first-team AP All-Pro for the third consecutive year, ran a 4.93 40-yard dash and recorded a 30.5-inch vertical at the 2011 combine.

Ruiz can play the guard position as well, it’s not like he’s limited to just playing the center spot. He started five games at the right guard spot his freshman year (10 total games played). During his sophomore campaign, he played and started in 13 games at the center position and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors. Ruiz additionally started all 13 games at center as a Junior and earned second-team All-Big Ten honors.

Film room notes

When looking at tape to see what Ruiz could bring to the table as an interior offensive lineman, I really wanted to analyze film from both his sophomore and junior seasons. Therefore, I could see some of the things he’s improved on over time.

The first game shown above is the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl played between Michigan and Florida in December 2018 (sophomore season), a matchup in which Michigan lost 41-15. The latter game, on the other hand, is Michigan’s 10-3 win over Iowa this past October (junior season).

Now, I want to start off with some of the negatives of his play before I begin with the positives. And while doing so, I believe it’s important to compare some aspects of the film to Biadasz. If the Giants do decide to draft a center in round No. 2, it could come down to either one of those two prospects.

Well right off the bat, Ruiz doesn’t seem to have as grounded of a base as Biadasz does. He tends to use his long arms to reach for the opponent and block with his hands. It’s something that any edge rusher at the pro level would expose in no time. This tendency additionally leads to Ruiz overcommitting on some blocks and losing his balance.

At first, it looked like he needed to work on keeping his head on a swivel, but that certainly seemed to improve in the latter video. Ruiz will develop that quality even more if he receives the right coaching in the NFL.

He’s always moving his feet, but the power doesn’t match up well with the lateral agility. He doesn’t nearly show the strength from the center spot like Biadasz does, as Ruiz tends to become overpowered at times.

But enough of the negatives. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of having Ruiz on your football team.

He’s quick off the snap, shows good hand placement by putting his hand on the opponent’s hip, moves his feet, drives, and keep his eyes up field. He’s never too fixated on one opponent and is always looking at the next wave of defenders.

With his strong vision, he’s able to execute a double team with either guard but then quickly locate the linebacker shooting the gap, set himself back up, and position his hands to slow the defender down before they can reach the quarterback.

In a one-on-one battle in the trenches, Ruiz never stops fighting for inside position and takes good enough angles off the snap in order to widen the holes for the ball carrier.

Despite the fact that he may reach for his opponents at times, he still doesn’t “catch” them a whole lot. His long arms are an advantage as he steps up to the defender, but he needs to figure out how to utilize his weapons more effectively.

And lastly, there’s one quality I see in him that I additionally see in Biadasz. Simply speaking, neither stops until that whistle is blown. Both are fighters, which would resonate well with Giants head coach Joe Judge and offensive line coach Marc Colombo.

How he’d fit into the Giants roster

Just like Biadasz, Ruiz would instantly compete for the starting center job. But if New York also drafts an offensive tackle in round one, they may be reluctant to start two rookies on the line right away. So in that case, it would be tough for Ruiz to find playing time at least in the first few games.

Big Blue would still give him to chance to compete though, and his opponent may be none other than Spencer Pulley.

The Giants started Pulley in nine games in the 2018 campaign and one game last year. While he wasn’t the worst option, he was definitely inconsistent. In 13 total games in 2018, he allowed two sacks (13 yards), committed two penalties (15 yards), and compiled a 56.7 Pro Football Focus grade, which was the fourth-lowest mark on the entire team.

As was said before, New York could potentially lean more towards starting Pulley at the beginning of the season depending on the circumstances. Ruiz would then become accustomed to the speed of the game while sitting on the bench. If things go south with Pulley, they could always promote Ruiz to the No. 1 spot and see how it plays out from there.

But regardless of who would start Week 1, the Giants carry a futuristic need at the center position. Jon Halapio‘s fate in East Rutherford is unclear after he started 15 games for Big Blue last year and tore his Achilles in Week 17. The Giants decided not to tender Halapio this offseason, which made him an unrestricted free agent.

Pulley is an option, but he’s not the long-term answer at the position. Ruiz may very well be. Therefore, don’t be surprised if the Giants have their eye on him when day two of the draft arrives.

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