From now until the 2023 NFL Draft takes place, we hope to scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents. Today I’ll be profiling Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg.
#51 RICKY STROMBERG, CENTER, ARKANSAS (SR.) 6040,313 LBS.
Shrine Bowl Invite
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Ricky Stromberg||6’4 313||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|40 Yard Dash||10 Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Very technically sound, commands the offensive line
— Good mechanically as he uses hands and feet well
— Good hand placement initially on defensive line and climbing next level on linebackers
— Sets the pocket well and cleans up any late blitzers
— Rarely misses any stunts and twists as he uses good eyes scanning the field during pass pro
— Position versatility being able to play both guard and center
— Coached by offensive line guru Sam Pittman
— Multiple year starter playing in a handful of games
— Sometimes has the habit of lunging and missing on defenders
— Gets caught ducking head and missing often at the next level
— Caught some plays letting go of guys early not finishing, allowing guys to make plays late
— Stronger in the upper body than lower body, making you hope in the future you see him add some lower body strength to help with leg drive
— Lacks the speed you want to see as a puller when at guard, when it comes to getting to the end man on the line before the back hits the hole
— Feet sometimes die after initial punch in both pass and run
— Born November 10, 2000 (age 22)
— 2018 Four-star prospect out of Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma
— Ranked no. 19 offensive guard in the nation by 247 sports and third ranked player in the state of Oklahoma
— 2019 as a freshman started each of last 11 games, playing in all 12
— Started his first two games at left guard and playing his last nine at right guard
— Played a total of 741 snaps as a freshman
— Didn’t allow a sack in 417 pass protection snaps recording 80.0 grades in three different games according to PFF
— 2020 Playing exclusively center, played in nine games making eight starts
— 2020 Fall SEC Academic Honor Roll
— Played in every offensive snap of the game seven times
—Allowed one sack in 355 pass protection snaps
— 2021 Second-Team All-SEC by Associated Press
— 2021 Third-Team All-SEC (PFF, Phil Steele)
— 2021 Remington Trophy Watch List
— 2021 SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week (Sept. 20)
— Started all 13 games at center
— Blocked for a team that led all power five in rushing averaging 227.8 yards per game
— Played 873 snaps only giving up three sacks and being penalized eight times
— Recorded a 78.9 run blocking grade on the year and posting an 80.2 pass blocking grade
Stromberg is an interesting player and a player I feel high on due to multiple reasons. For starters Stromberg was coached by a widely known offensive line sensei, Sam Pittman, who has coached multiple professional players and players who had great college careers. At Arkansas during his time, they were one of the best teams rushing the football in the entire nation. He’s an extremely intelligent player who plays well down in the line of scrimmage or even downfield in big play situations. The most impressive part of his pass pro is that he rarely misses guys. Wether that be late blitzers, stunts, twists, etc. A lot of the problems young offensive lineman have is not coming off on linebackers or next level guys in double teams. Stromberg really impresses while, keeping his head up, coming off appropriately on double teams allowing to free backs up for homerun plays in the running game.
Here in this clip, you see Arkansas has a short yardage situation and they run a simple form of dive with motion, Stromberg and the right guard just own the defensive line. Good on him to throw this guy out of the club and finish the block. It rounds out his ability to finish and his overall mean streak. When you don’t have to preach and teach finish as an offensive lineman, especially a young guy, that’s a great sign of a guy’s future development.
His overall torque is underrated, and his strength is one of his strongpoints, but I can’t over state just how great his hands are. The way he’s able to man handle guys is such a great trait of his because as an offensive lineman, when you don’t win moving a guy vertically being able to position block a guy is a win. Especially in short yardage when the ball is coming right in behind you, he knows he can’t stand directly in the way of the play. He isn’t able to move the guy from point A to point B so to be able to torque in between the defender and the ball is a win even when he doesn’t take a guy to the sidelines.
I’ll continuously brag on his ability to climb next level and get his hands on linebackers because with his ability to do that he allowed a lot of those homerun touchdown plays. Even more here he must get skinny when going through the line in order to get there and to avoid the trash to go to the linebacker and he does so, swimmingly well.
One of the more difficult things to do as an offensive lineman is to get downfield on screen plays and break down and get hands on a defensive back. Given the size and speed difference it seems near impossible but with good balance like Stromberg shows here. He’s sneaky athletic and sometimes just blocking that one guy in the defensive secondary can free up a touchdown. Great play here by Stromberg and a technically sound play by him.
Now one thing he has to do is learn to play with good lean while not lunging at guys with his head down. This is something you see sporadically in his tape and though the guy doesn’t make the play in this instance, eventually guys will make those plays and cost when it comes to moving the chains. It’s just a simple inside zone play and he doesn’t expect the defensive end to cross his face the way he does but with his eyes up he avoids this mistake all together.
On the clip below, it’s a simple split flow zone play. The H back’s job is to kick out the end man on the line of scrimmage, but a linebacker walks down in the gap where Stromberg is playing right guard. In most cases he would block down and help the center with whoever was lined up closest to him but with the line backer walked down he must take him and instead he continues to block down on the tackle with the center. This is just an execution error, but overall, for the last years of his career the mental aspect of his game improved vastly.
Ricky Stromberg is a smart, athletic center who moves really well both laterally and vertically. In both pass protection and the run game he excels, and he really remained steady throughout his career. His ability to scan the field in pass protection is excellent as he catches all guys trying to leak though, whether that be blitzing next level defenders or twists, stunts, etc. The tape really shows how impressive and how technically sound he is. He does the small things well and doesn’t really miss blocks in the aspect of completely missing guys and blocking the wrong guy.
Although sometimes as stated above, he does tend to whiff, this is a habit that can be broken. I feel very good about this guys ability to play and excel at the next level. A center in the NFL I can’t seem to shake when it comes to trying to compare him is Jason Kelce. Both guys with average size and nothing physically that jumps off the page, but they are both guys that move bodies off the line of scrimmage, are cerebral assassins, and climb to the next level really well. While there’s a decent chance that the Steelers add to the center position, it’s questionable that this move could happen.
Projection: Early Second Round
Depot Draft Grade: 8.4- Future Quality Starter (Second Round)
Games Watched: Vs. Alabama (2022) Vs. Missouri (2021) Vs. Georgia (2021) Vs. LSU (2020)