A two-year starter for Michigan, Cesar Ruiz started 31 of 36 games in his collegiate career. His first action came in the final five games of his freshman season where he played at right guard. Ruiz would take over as the starting center for the Wolverines in his sophomore and junior seasons. During his two seasons starting at center, Ruiz had nearly 900 pass protections snaps and gave up one sack, according to Pro Football Focus.
Ruiz has a thick, compact frame with the excellent athletic ability for the center position. He tested in the 91st percentile at the NFL Combine among centers since 1999.
Vs. the Run
The first thing that pops off of the screen when turning on Ruiz’s tape is his ability to get out into space. His quickness, body control, and vision are all on full display. Opening his hips and accelerating to get out in front is impressive. He can make sharp cuts to redirect his path and channel his power at the point of attack. Ruiz doesn’t typically look to overpower his opponents in the open field. Instead, he rotates his hips to seal off run lanes.
Ruiz also brings power and a nasty streak in the power run game. He knows no bounds when it comes to doing what it takes to sustain his block. Explosive off the snap, Ruiz shows good pad level and some pop with his hands on initial contact. The former Wolverine has the torque to throw defensive linemen, as he will do whatever it takes to sustain his block. Few defenders found success detaching once Ruiz got his hands on them. On drive blocks, he resets and maintains leverage well while keeping his feet churning.
In zone run blocking schemes, Ruiz has the quick first step, lateral movement to work down the line, and flexibility to turn upfield. He brings a powerful blow when working combo blocks to push defensive tackles across the face of the offensive guard before working to the second level. As he reaches his assignment at the second level, Ruiz quickly flips his hips turning his back to the run lane to provide a clear path for running backs.
Vs. the Pass
Ruiz is a vocal leader along the offensive line adjusting blocking assignments pre-snap. Given his explosiveness out of his stance, ability to mirror rushers, anchor when switching to power, and awareness against stunts and late blitzes, he has all of the physical traits to become one of the best centers at the NFL level.
There was clear improvement from Ruiz in his pass protection from 2018 to 2019. His consistency with his hands and timing of his strikes could still improve, but he’s demonstrated improvement each year. Watching him mirror pass rushers along the interior and maintaining leverage is not what you usually see from a man his size. His smooth footwork and ability to convert to his anchor will have NFL coaches excited.
When left uncovered, Ruiz keeps his head on a swivel looking for work. He does an excellent job of assisting his teammates. It’s a rare occasion for him to be caught off guard by stunts or a late blitz. There was clear continuity along the Michigan offensive line as they exchanged stunts and twists at a high level.
Where Ruiz can struggle in pass protection is against longer, quick-twitch defensive tackles. Given his size, Ruiz lacks somewhat in the length department. Longer armed defensive tackles gave him trouble at times as he was unable to get his hands on them and assert his dominant power.