The New York Giants need upgrades at several spots along their offensive line. Perhaps the most pressing is at the center position. For the last two seasons they have tried to get along with a minimal investment in the middle of their offensive line, trying to convert journeyman guard Jon Halapio as well as playing journeyman back-up center Spencer Pulley. Neither player has really worked out for the Giants and making matters worse, Halapio finished 2019 with a ruptured Achilles.
It’s time for the Giants to invest in the center position, and they would certainly like to be able to land one of the top centers in the draft. Michigan center Cesar Ruiz has experience, good athleticism, and the size the Giants covet on the line of scrimmage.
Could he be an option depending on how the draft board falls?
Prospect: Cesar Ruiz, C, Michigan
Games Watched: vs. Ohio State (2018), vs. Florida (2019), vs Iowa (2019), vs. Penn State (2019)
Red Flags: None
Games Played: 39 (31 starts, 26 at C, 5 at RG)
Best: Athleticism, leverage, pass protection, run blocking
Worst: Accuracy, sustaining blocks
Projection: A starting center with the versatility to play guard if necessary.
Michigan center Cesar Ruiz has a good blend of size and athleticism for the center position. He appears to have adequate lengths and good thickness through his upper and lower body. He delivers crisp and accurate snaps in the shotgun alignment and the center/quarterback exchange is clean when the quarterback is under center.
Ruiz shows good quickness off the snap, easily getting his hands up to engage most defenders. Ruiz moves easily, showing good lateral agility to mirror interior pass rushers, as well as a wide base to absorb power rushes. He has active hands, which he uses well in hand-fighting to counter pass rush moves. Ruiz also shows good awareness and processing speed when faced with stunts and twists along the defensive line.
Ruiz is experienced in both man and zone blocking schemes and is able to generate movement along the line of scrimmage in both schemes. He has the ability to run laterally in outside zone schemes and stress the defensive line horizontally. Ruiz also has the play-strength to drive defensive tackles back in one-on-one situations in man-gap schemes when he is able to establish leverage early. He is also a capable puller, moving well and blocking efficiently. His athleticism also shows up when asked to play in space on screen passes. Ruiz shows good competitive toughness once engaged with a defender and doesn’t back down from blocks.
Ruiz does not appear active in the pre-snap phase, so his ability to call protections is unknown coming out. He does need to show greater awareness of potential A-gap blitzes before the snap and can struggle to pick them up in time. Ruiz also needs to work on sustaining his blocks throughout long reps, and counter-moves can beat his blocks. And though he has a wide base and generally plays with good pad level, his balance can be a question when navigating traffic around the line of scrimmage.
Overall Grade: 6.5 - Has the traits to be a starting center at the NFL level in a variety of schemes. A good value late in the first round or early on Day 2. [Grading Scale]
Cesar Ruiz projects as a center prospect with starting potential at the next level. He has the physical traits to play along the line of scrimmage in the NFL, but questions about his ability to recognize pressures and call protections during the pre-snap phase will need to be answered. Ruiz has the athletic ability and play strength to execute in both man and zone blocking schemes, giving him scheme diversity at the next level, as well as an NFL-ready frame.
Ruiz also has experience at right guard, giving him added versatility and potential as a utility interior lineman. A team could opt to try him at guard if they already have a center in place, or if he needs a season to learn the calls for the blocking scheme. At worst he has a high floor as a valuable backup who can fill multiple positions on game day.