Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk

Eagles draft targets at No. 14: Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk

Ryan Ramczyk, OT, Wisconsin

Height: 6-foot-6
Weight: 310 pounds

2016: 14 starts

Bench press: 25 reps

Is Ryan Ramczyk the next Lane Johnson, or is the 2017 NFL Draft prospect another Danny Watkins? Because even the mere possibility of the latter might be enough to convince the Eagles to keep their distance.

Much like the last two offensive linemen the Eagles selected in the first round of the draft, Ramczyk’s college football career evolved from modest beginnings. Johnson played tight end at a community college before making the jump to Oklahoma, where he became an offensive tackle. Watkins was a Canadian training to become a firefighter at a junior college in Texas before finding his way to Baylor as a 25-year-old junior.

Ramczyk made the jump from Division III to the Badgers in 2015, where after a redshirt year, he wound up playing only one season. Obviously, it was impressive, because he earned first-team All-Big Ten and All-American honors. Still, the small body of work is concerning.

Actually, there’s even less tape of Ramczyk at a major college program than there was of Johnson or Watkins, who each spent two seasons as a starter before making the leap to the NFL. And like Watkins, scouting reports question Ramczyk’s passion for football -- though say nothing about a predisposition to firetrucks over playbooks.

Despite the unconventional background, Ramczyk could be the first offensive lineman off the board this year. There is not much in the way of consensus over who the top offensive tackle is in the draft, but his name often at the top of the list. Ramczyk may be the only one who potentially warrants a top-15 pick, too.

Tackle could certainly be viewed as a need for the Eagles. At this point, you never which season could be Jason Peters’ last. The nine-time Pro Bowl selection rebounded after a disappointing and injury-riddled 2015 campaign, but the writing is on the wall. Peters will be 36 in January and entering the final year of his contract, and already isn’t as dominant as he once was.

The Eagles might not want to make too many assumptions about Johnson, either. While he’s been groomed to eventually take over for Peters at left tackle, some feel the four-year veteran is better suited for the right side, while recurring PED suspensions threaten to knock him out action.

Under optimal circumstances, Johnson takes Peters’ place on the left, but who replaces Johnson? The Eagles have some candidates on the roster, notably Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Right tackle isn’t necessarily a first-round type of need, either. Regardless, it’s a question mark.

In theory, Ramczyk could play on the left or right, providing the Eagles with options when Peters is finished. Taking a player who isn’t expected to play or contribute with the No. 14 pick in the draft probably isn’t ideal, but it certainly goes a long way toward bolstering Carson Wentz’s protection for the future.

That is, if Ramczyk is more Johnson than Watkins. To be fair, Watkins was sort of a unique case in that he was literally going to school to follow his dreams and accidentally became a football player. Ramczyk was never really sure what he would do after high school, according to Rob Rang for CBS Sports, so why not play football professionally?

No doubt, those are the kinds of questions NFL teams are asking, along with checking into his medical history after undergoing offseason hip surgery. Perhaps then it’s notable the Eagles did not have Ramczyk in for an official top-30 pre-draft visit.

 

Other Eagles draft targets at No. 14:
Tennessee DE Derek Barnett
Michigan DE Taco Charlton
Ohio State CB Gareon Conley
Florida State RB Dalvin Cook
Western Michigan WR Corey Davis
Alabama LB Reuben Foster
LSU RB Leonard Fournette
Alabama TE O.J. Howard
Alabama CB Marlon Humphrey
Washington CB Kevin King
Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
Michigan State DT Malik McDowell
UCLA DE Takkarist McKinley
Wisconsin OT Ryan Ramczyk
Washington WR John Ross
LSU CB Tre'Davious White
Clemson WR Mike Williams

Even on honeymoon, Jon Dorenbos performs wild magic trick with coin

Even on honeymoon, Jon Dorenbos performs wild magic trick with coin

Magic never stops.

Not even on Jon Dorenbos' honeymoon.

The Eagles' long snapper and magic enthusiast is enjoying picturesque Bora Bora with his wife Annalise.

Still, fresh off his wedding and surrounded by water way too blue, Dorenbos wasn't about to stop entertaining us as he posted this crazy coin trick on his Instagram account.

Bora Bora Magic - I love this move. @apollorobbins showed me this 15 years ago. #honeymoon

A post shared by Jon Dorenbos (@jondorenbos) on

Pretty darn cool — and, seriously, how does he do it?

And don't worry, Dorenbos is clearly having a great time on the honeymoon, not just blowing our minds with cool magic.

Amazing. #honeymoon #paradise

A post shared by Jon Dorenbos (@jondorenbos) on

How Jim Thome got his batting stance thanks to Charlie Manuel and 'The Natural'

How Jim Thome got his batting stance thanks to Charlie Manuel and 'The Natural'

If there's anyone in the world I could sit next to for hours and listen to talk about baseball it would be former Phillies manager and World Champion of baseball Charlie Manuel.

Charlie is still very involved in the Phillies organization to this day and we're lucky enough to have 45 minutes of his time talking ball with longtime Phillies scribe Jim Salisbury.

Those two know the Phillies just about as well as anybody, so there's plenty of meat on the bone to chew on. The duo chatted for a recent episode of Sully's "At The Yard" podcast.

The story that caught my ear the most was Charlie's telling of how Jim Thome came to have that somewhat-goofy stance before he hits. It was a timing mechanism that Manuel stumbled upon in the strangest of ways.

This was when both Charlie and Jim were working for a Cleveland Indians' affiliate in the minors. 

"We were playing in Scranton and it was a Phillies triple-A team at the time. I kept thinking of a timing mechanism of some kind, a waggle or something, what Thome could do with his bat where he wouldn't tense up, where it would help him to relax and everything."

"I came into our locker room early," Manuel said. "I didn't let my players turn the TV on after a certain time. I came through the clubhouse that day, they had 'The Natural' on. I told 'em to turn it off. Some of the players said, 'Hey, Charlie, we're watching The Natural can we watch the end of The Natural? I said, 'Not really, what's the rule?'

"I saw Robert Redford standing there pointing the bat with one hand, bringing it back. I looked over at Thome, I said, 'you can finish watching the movie. From now on that's going to be your load.' I took him down in the cage and worked with him. The game started and the Phillies had a left-handed pitcher named [Kyle] Abbott. He was pitching that day. I told Jimmy, 'From now on that's your stance.' He gets up there the first time up, Abbott throws him a breaking ball away and he hit a home run to left center... I mean a longways. He come up the next time he hit another one to right center. I think he had three hits that day."

"That's a true story," Manuel added.

It sounds to good to be true. So we did a little research and Thome has told the same tale on a television special out in Chicago last summer.

"We were in Scranton and I was a guy who held the bat still and would go from a standstill and swing," Thome explained. "(Charlie) was watching The Natural and he saw that (Hobbs) kind of had this little wiggle to his stance, and I remember the day. We went out the next day, we worked early and he said 'Do me a favor and try holding the bat out there (pointing towards the pitcher) and get a little rhythm with your swing.' And from that day I never looked back. The following day we played a doubleheader and I hit two home runs."

You can listen to the whole podcast with Jim Salisbury and Charlie Manuel right here.