COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Former Ohio State tight end Jeremy Ruckert was good enough to enter the NFL Draft following the shortened 2020 season. But he decided to return to Columbus and put together another solid season of tape for NFL scouts to evaluate.
The Lindenhurst, New York native is a dual-threat pass catcher and run blocker, which helps him earn a third-round projection from most draft experts.
Ruckert hauled in 54 catches for 615 yards and 12 touchdowns during his four years at Ohio State. His numbers would’ve been much higher at a program like Wisconsin where a premium is placed on making the tight end an integral part of the passing attack.
The tight end position at Ohio State isn’t used as frequently in the pass game because of all the weapons coach Ryan Day has at his disposal at wide receiver. Ruckert flashed his pass catching ability in a few key moments, including two different one-handed catches: a touchdown against Wisconsin in the 2019 Big Ten Championship game and a one-handed catch against Alabama in the 2020 National Championship game.
Ruckert embraces all aspects of playing tight end and takes pride in being a hard-nosed blocker. He understands what his blocking assignment is and tries to put the defender on the ground every time.
At 6’5″ 250 pounds, Ruckert has the ideal frame for an NFL tight end. He’ll be able to chip or maintain a block on most edge rushers and clash into linebackers to seal a run block. But he can also operate in space as a traditional “Y” tight end. He’s quicker and more athletic than the average player at his position and that will serve him well in the pass-happy NFL.
Picking apart Ruckert is mostly nitpicking because he doesn’t have glaring flaws in his game. His aggressive blocking is mostly a positive but it can throw him off balance and leave him too high on a block, giving the defender an easier time going through him.
The other drawback is just a lack of tape on what he can truly do as a pass catching tight end because of how Ohio State runs its offense. This shouldn’t cause Ruckert to slide in the draft but playing in a different system could have been the difference between Ruckert being higher than the No. 3 or 4 tight end prospect in this year’s draft.
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