SideLion Report analyzes possible targets for the Detroit Lions in the upcoming draft. Today, we look at Michigan center Cesar Ruiz.
Just one week to go! In these strange and uncertain times, football fans have only seven sleeps to go before the NFL’s first-ever “virtual” draft is set to begin. The Detroit Lions will be looking to add some talented contributors to a roster that produced just three wins in 2019.
Their needs on defense are clear (cornerback, edge, defensive line…), but the Lions currently have question marks on the interior of their offensive line as well, save for standout third-year center Frank Ragnow. Finding a ready-to-contribute inside player at some point next week is a likelihood.
At guard, the Lions watched steady Graham Glasgow sign with the Denver Broncos in free agency last month, and currently have a variety of unproven youngsters and low-wattage veterans on the roster. This includes Joe Dahl and Kenny Wiggins, who combined for 16 starts for Detroit last season.
However, each of them finished last year on injured reserve and may be better served as backups next season. They could also end up battling for one roster spot.
So with whom and when will the Lions look to address the guard spot starting next Thursday? They seem highly unlikely to select an offensive lineman with their first selection, but here’s a player for them to consider in subsequent frames, whose local connection would make many Lions supporters smile.
Prospect: Cesar Ruiz
Position/School: Center / Michigan
Height/Weight: 6-3 / 307
2018 stats: 13 games played, 13 starts
Draft Projection: 1st-2nd round
Nominally, Ruiz is a center, and that spot is a strength for the Lions with Ragnow in tow. Ruiz played exclusively in the middle for the Wolverines last year, but a common trend in the NFL these days is centers developing the ability to move to guard as well. The Lions love versatile offensive linemen and could look to slot Ruiz in there from day one, while also having him serve as the backup pivot.
It wouldn’t be totally foreign to him either; Ruiz started five games at guard in Ann Arbor as a freshman and is athletic enough to move up to the second level as a run blocker. He is exceptionally quick for an interior lineman and should have little problem transitioning to an NFL offense.
Ruiz is not the most powerful player at his position and may need to work on his play strength in order to handle some of the more imposing interior pass rushers in the league. He also has a shorter wingspan than some would like at the position but makes up for it with strong hands and good technique.
The Lions have spent much of this offseason adding tough, high-character players, and Ruiz certainly fits that description. He grew up in Camden, New Jersey, a city that consistently has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country.
Additionally, when Ruiz was just eight years old, his father was struck and killed by a driver while helping another motorist change a tire. These tragic circumstances undoubtedly helped him mature at a young age, emerge as a leader at Michigan, and they should help him become a fine pro.
Overall, Ruiz is the best interior offensive lineman in this year’s draft class and would be an excellent fit with the Lions as they continue to search for stability and quality up front. Guard is not necessarily one of the most highly valued positions in Detroit, and they may not be targeting one in the earlier rounds. Ruiz is good enough to make them reconsider this stance should he be available.
Do you think that Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz would be a good fit for the Detroit Lions? Let us know in the comments section below.