Article Draft Opinions

Cesar Ruiz not a glamorous pick, but will bring value to Saints offense

“With the 24th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, the New Orleans Saints select Cesar Ruiz,” was not was I was anticipating to hear tonight. It was pretty much a consensus that the Saints biggest needs were among linebacker, cornerback, quarterback, or wide receiver.

With Patrick Queen, Kristian Fulton and many valuable receivers available, the Saints instead went interior offensive line. While many fans are probably a bit confused with this pick, it makes sense. They not only have very little quality depth behind Andrus Peat, Larry Warford and Erik McCoy, but there also were rumblings from Saints reporters like Katherine Terrell that the Saints were disappointed in Larry Warford’s play in 2019.

This looks to be a long-term move, but the center out of Michigan is still a very, very good player. He’s allowed one sack in the past two seasons and was PFF’s second-highest graded pass-blocking center in 2019, with an 86.5 grade.

He played over 85 percent of his 2,104 career college snaps at center. The rest came at guard all in his first year at Michigan. So immediately projecting him to play guard in the NFL might take some adjusting to, but he has the talent to do so, if asked to.

I get why they made the pick, but I just don’t necessarily think it was the best pick to make.

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They just paid Andrus Peat a long-term deal to play left guard, and even though Warford might’ve had a bad year, he’s still a good player. I would argue he’s a good bit better than the one they just paid all the money to, albeit without the versatility.

And there are other good interior offensive linemen available who predominantly play guard that they could’ve gotten later, like Jonah Jackson or Ruiz’s former teammate Michael Onwenu.

Nonetheless, they get another high quality player with some versatility.

I understand the frustration from Saints fans, but this pick does nothing but make the offensive line deeper and better, immediately.

It could’ve been worse. They could’ve drafted a running back.

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