INDIANAPOLIS — Will new Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard's first draft pick with the team be used on an offensive lineman?
That's the thought process of NFL.com's Lance Zierlein, who has the Colts selecting a tackle, Ryan Ramczyk, with their first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft.
You can see Zierlein's entire first-round mock draft by clicking here, but here's what he had to say specifically about the Colts and Ramczyk, a Wisconsin product:
"This might seem a little early, but Ramczyk is the top tackle on my board. New GM Chris Ballard knows he has to start building along the offensive and defensive fronts."
Ramczyk's story certainly is interesting. Now listed at 6-foot-6, 314 pounds, he decided against accepting any FBS or FCS offers coming out of high school to take a year off from the game and attend a technical college.
His next step was to play at the Division III level, at Wisconsin at Stevens Point, before transferring to Wisconsin and head coach Paul Chryst in 2015. He had to sit out that season due to transfer rules, but excelled in his one and only Division I season, starting every game at left tackle and being named both All-Big Ten and an All-American by the Associated Press.
Zierlein, who also wrote Ramczyk's NFL.com Draft Profile, believes he is an "extremely confident tackle with the athleticism to stay on the left side and the technique to make an early impact as a starter" with whichever team he lands on in the NFL.
"Ramczyk has the core strength and body control that should keep him connected to blocks in both the run and pass and he's proven to be scheme versatile with his playing style," Zierlein wrote. "Ramczyk is an early starter with the potential to become a good starting left tackle provided his medicals hold up."
Those "medicals" include a torn labrum in his hip, which required surgery after Wisconsin's bowl game this past season and likely means Ramczyk will miss the NFL Combine as well as his pro day workouts.
With the Colts, when healthy, one might imagine Ramczyk would be more of a candidate for the right tackle position, with Anthony Casonzo firmly locked in as the team's left tackle.
The team, of course, spent four of its eight draft picks a year ago on offensive linemen, and if the team were to take Ramczyk with their first-round pick this year, it would be the second straight year doing just that, after taking Alabama center Ryan Kelly — who started all 16 games for the team in 2016 — with the No. 18-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
And while Indianapolis certainly wants to get its line even better to improve in protecting franchise quarterback Andrew Luck, taking Ramczyk would add yet another young piece to a group that has plenty of experience already.
Joe Haeg, a 2016 fifth-round selection out of North Dakota State, appears to have earned a starting job along the line moving forward after impressing as a versatile piece in his rookie season, starting 14 games in all at the right and left guard and right tackle positions.
Le'Raven Clark was viewed as a potentially ultra-talented building block when the Colts took him in the third round out of Texas Tech last year, and he started the final three games at right tackle in his rookie season.
Outside of established starters Castonzo (left tackle), Jack Mewhort (left guard), Kelly (center) and Haeg (right guard/tackle), the Colts also have guys like Denzelle Good, Joe Reitz, Jonathan Harrison, Austin Blythe and others to choose from up front.
The analysis from those producing content on Colts.com does not necessarily represent the thoughts of the Indianapolis Colts organization. Any conjecture, analysis or opinions formed by Colts.com content creators is not based on inside knowledge gained from team officials, players or staff.