The Ohio State Buckeyes can be forgiven for not featuring tight end Jeremy Ruckert more in their offense. They have had an embarrassment of riches on their offense for as long as Ruckert has been on their roster. And it just makes sense to have your tight end be a third option — at best — when you have some of the skill position players the Buckeyes have boasted over the last four years.
But that could work out to the advantage of a team like the New York Giants. The Giants certainly need to add a long-term answer at tight end, and Ruckert has the skill set to be a complete tight end at the NFL level. Could the fact that he has been overshadowed on the Ohio State offense make him one of the great value picks in this year’s draft?
Prospect: Jeremy Ruckert (88)
Games Watched: vs. Indiana (2021), vs. Penn State (2021), vs. Michigan State (2021), vs. Michigan (2021)
Games Played: 26
Yards (YPC): 615 (11.4 per catch)
Games Played: 11
Yards (YPC): 309 (11.9 per catch)
Best: Size, functional athleticism, versatility, competitive toughness
Worst: Block accuracy, absolute athleticism
Projection: A starting tight end with scheme versatility
Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert has a good blend of size, athleticism, play strength, and versatility to play the position at the NFL level.
Ruckert played out of a wide variety of alignments in the Ohio State offense. He lined up as both an in-line and detached tight end, in the backfield as an H-Back, as a slot receiver, and flexed out as a wide receiver. Additionally, he was often used in pre-snap motion, from one position to another, to help identify opposing coverage schemes, and he was even sent in jet motion prior to the snap.
Ruckert is an athletic receiver for a bigger tight end. He gets into his routes well, with little wasted motion off of the line of scrimmage. He has solid downfield speed and shows surprising savvy as a route runner. Ruckert ran routes from all of the positions he played, and executed those routes well. In particular, he does a good job of using his size and manipulating the stem of his routes to force defenders away from the intended receiving window. He is still capable of relatively sharp breaks, and uses the flares at the top of his routes to maximize his separation.
Ruckert is a solid catcher of the football, generally plucking the ball out of the air with his hands – as opposed to letting it into his chest plate – and does a good job of locating, tracking, and adjusting to the pass down the field. He also does a good job of turning to face his quarterback, giving him a square target on shorter passes.
Ruckert is an aggressive blocker in both the running game and pass protection. He has good play strength and generally solid technique to play with leverage and sustain his blocks. Ruckert is also capable of uncoiling his hips, striking, and driving defenders, occasionally knocking linebackers or defensive backs to the ground. He works to sustain his blocks and does a good job of delivering chip blocks when he releases into his routes.
While Ruckert is a good blocker when his blocks land, he can be frustratingly inconsistent in his accuracy. At times his hands land poorly and defenders are able to slip his blocks, while he can miss defenders entirely at other times. He can also be a bit slow off the snap on some plays, and occasionally loses track of defenders in chaotic situations.
Ruckert is also an athletic player for a 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end, but he falls short of the upper echelons of tight end athleticism. He moves well and has solid long speed, but doesn’t appear to be an elite athlete in any one area.
Overall Grade: 7.5
Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert has the skill-set and traits to develop into a starting tight end at the NFL level – or at the very least a very high quality “TE2” for teams that use a lot of 12-personnel groupings.
His size and blocking prowess suggest a classic “complete” tight end, but Ruckert’s experience and versatility should allow him to do just about anything his future offense will ask of him. While he has plenty of experience as an in-line or detached tight “Y” tight end, he also has plenty of experience as an H-Back, slot receiver, and wide receiver.
Ruckert isn’t a finished product yet, though he should be a solid contributor early in his career. He still needs to work on being more accurate in his blocks and improve his hand usage to better sustain his blocks.
Likewise, Ruckert can stand to improve as a receiver as well. This isn’t terribly surprising, as he was an almost complete afterthought in Ohio State’s passing offense. That isn’t a surprise given the caliber of receivers (and running backs) they routinely boast, but Ruckert would benefit from an increased role and more looks in the passing game.