2023 NFL Draft

Interview: Arkansas Center Ricky Stromberg Breaks Down Steelers’ Meeting, Art To Playing O-Line

The old cliché of “block somebody” doesn’t give offensive linemen the credit they’re due. It’s not merely showing up on gameday, putting your hand in the ground, and blocking the man in front of you. Ok, that’s part of it, but to be a proficient offensive lineman, one who wants to make it in the NFL, there’s a technique and strategy to it. One that comes with experience.

Few players in this year’s draft carry the experience Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg has. 44 career starts for the Razorbacks, he spoke to our Jonathan Heitritter and Joe Clark, about his pre-snap approach for different calls. Inside zone versus outside zone versus power runs.

“It just depends on where the three tech is or the shade or the G is,” he explained. “Depending on where, that’s when I change my steps.  Definitely if it’s outside zone, if I have a G I want to get deeper cause I wanna try to reach in and cover ’em up, take the vertical. But if I have a shade, I want to get deep, but I wanna be quick with it. If I have a three, I wanna get real deep. So it just depends on where they’re lining up for me…that goes with gap, inside zone, outside zone. It’s all depending on their alignment is where my footsteps will take place.”

Essentially, how Stromberg executes the block depends on defensive alignment. It’s an ongoing game of cat and mouse. Defensive linemen are taught the same. The flow and steps of the o-line’s blocking scheme can tip off the direction of the play. Here’s a great example from top prospect Jalen Carter, reading the guard going away and securing the B gap to avoid being reached and cutoff.

Stromberg knows all about playing against Georgia and the best defenses in college-football. Teams who want the cleanest evaluation possible, the least among of projection, watch those who start in the SEC. If you can cut it there, you can probably hang around on Sundays.

In our player profile, Chandler Stroud broke down his game, highlighting his technique and stunt recognition, and giving him a high second round grade.

And Pittsburgh’s taken interest. Teams get only 45 formal interviews at the Combine and they quickly spoke to Stromberg.

“I met with the Steelers. They were my first formal. We didn’t watch any film but we just talked. They wanted to get to know me better and they wanted to get to know me as a football player…but that went well. I loved meeting Coach Tomlin. That was really cool, too.”

At things stand, Stromberg is viewed as a Day Three pick, the aggregate site Mock Draft Database listing him in the sixth rounder. But the final day of the draft is when team’s boards really begin to separate, meaning it’s possible he goes as early as the fourth round. There’s good reason to take a big and strong interior player whose proven his game on college football’s biggest stages. Stromberg says he’s a football junkie just trying to get better.

“I like to just watch football. It doesn’t feel like a job to me. It’s a hobby. I enjoy doing it.”

By the end of April, it won’t just be a hobby. It’ll be his profession.

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