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Saints 2019 Year in Review: Ryan Ramcyzk

Ramczyk finishes his third season as the league’s top rated offensive tackle.

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New Orleans Saints v Buffalo Bills Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

During the 2017 NFL Draft, Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster was on the phone with Sean Payton when the Saints’ head coach asked to speak with his girlfriend. “This was part of our fact-finding late in the round,” Payton said.

“I hadn’t had a chance to meet his girlfriend during the pre-draft process, and we were still in the process of deciding. I think we were going to take Ramczyk anyway, but I wanted to talk to her about Reuben.”

Supposedly, Payton asked Foster’s girlfriend, “Are you going to be the guidance to be sure Reuben doesn’t get into trouble?”

It’s a good thing the 49ers traded up to the #31st pick to draft Foster ahead of the Saints because less than a year later, Foster allegedly dragged that girlfriend by her hair before he punched her eight to ten times, rupturing her eardrum.

San Francisco cut him. Despite a wave of criticism and fan fallout, Washington claimed him. Then he tore his ACL on the third play of non-contact drills in OTAs.

It doesn’t really matter how serious Payton was about potentially drafting Foster over Ramczyk with their #32nd overall pick. What matters is that the Saints did in fact draft Ramczyk with their second first round pick in 2017.

According to PFF, over the past three seasons, Ramczyk ranked third in pressure rate allowed among 86 tackles with 500 or more pass-blocking snaps. The fifth ranked Saints’ offensive line, which Ramczyk has become a staple of, allowed the lowest pressure rate in 2.5 seconds or less (16.5%) in addition to the lowest pressure rate across the league (24.9%).

Ramczyk has never finished a season outside of the top 10 in overall grade among all tackles. In his most recent third season, Ramcyzk earned the #1 top overall grade for all offensive tackles (91.0). His pass-blocking grade was 82.8, while his run-blocking grade was even better at 91.8.

Ramczyk allowed only 20 pressures over 659 pass-blocking snaps or, more simply, 3% of the time. In short, Ramcyzk has been a beast and a blessing for the Saints’ offensive line, especially considering his relatively low cap hit of $2,829,131 for the 2020 season.

That’s amazing considering Ramcyzk often drew some of this season’s toughest defensive matchups in players like Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Ndamukong Suh, Calais Campbell, Khalil Mack, Nick Bosa, and of course the man who once told Drew Brees he needed a new right tackle, J.J. Watt. These highlights display how much has changed since Watt once dominated Zach Strief.

Perhaps no one on the Saints offensive line has been more consistent, but more importantly, available. In three seasons, Ramcyzk has only missed one game. In his rookie season, he played in 100% of the team’s offensive snaps. In his second season, he played in 95% on the offensive snaps, and last year, he played in 99% of offensive snaps.

The former Wisconsin lineman with a history of hip injuries has turned out to be one of the most reliable starters in the entire league. Perhaps the only knock on Ramcyzk’s short, but stellar career is the untimely dip in his performance during the playoffs.

‘17 Regular season: Overall 80.2, Pass-Blocking 76.4, Run-Blocking 76.6, 6 Penalties, 3 Sacks

‘17 Postseason: Overall 75.4, Pass-Blocking 74.5, Run-Blocking 71.7, 1 Penalty, 0 Sacks

‘18 Regular Season: Overall 82.3, Pass-Blocking 78.7, Run-Blocking 77.4, 3 Penalties, 4 Sacks

‘18 Postseason: Overall 66.6, Pass-Blocking 61.4, Run-Blocking 67.2, 1 Penalty, 2 Sacks

‘19 Regular Season: Overall 91.0, Pass-Blocking 82.8, Run-Blocking 91.8, 6 Penalties, 0 Sacks

‘19 Postseason: Overall 73.1, Pass-Blocking 66.2, Run-Blocking 77.4, 0 Penalties, 2 Sacks

Every year Ramcyzk’s postseason grades have been lower than his regular season grades. In 2018, he gave up two sacks in two playoff games after only giving up four in 15 regular season games (one missed due to injury). This year, he gave up two sacks in one playoff game after not giving up any over 16 regular season games.

Ramcyzk has proven that he is a top five starting tackle in this league, but he still needs to prove that he can elevate his game when it really matters in the playoffs. Despite his postseason issues, Ramcyzk remains one of the most important blocks to build around on the roster.

If Ramcyzk continues to play like he has his first three seasons, the Saints will have enjoyed All-Pro caliber play at the right tackle position over the course of four years ($8,891,555) for less than half of what’s paid annually to the top two highest paid players at his same position {Lane Johnson ($18M/year), Trenton Brown ($16.5M)}. Ramcyzk is currently the 20th highest paid right tackle despite arguably being the best.

That’s certain to change as the 2020 season marks his last on a rookie deal. Because he was selected with the last pick in the first round, however, the Saints will have the choice of placing the fifth year option on Ramcyzk. Unless they can come to a more cap friendly multi-year extension, the fifth year option sounds most likely.

Either way, the Saints need to keep Ramczyk in the fold, and thank god the 49ers drafted Foster first.