This summer at The Draft Network, we’ll be drafting units on college teams to formally scout. During the initial draft, I landed the Michigan offense. While the main cause of that draft pick was to scout a team with a deep and talented wide receiver group, I quickly learned about their interior offensive line.
With three returning draft-eligible starters on the interior, Ann Arbor will have plenty of eyes from scouts this fall.
Ben Bredeson has 33 starts to this point in his career, which means he’s on pace for 45+ throughout college. The senior left guard was recently named captain for the 2019 season after consecutive All-Big 10 second team selections.
The other guard is fellow senior Michael Onwenu, another multi-year starter who was selected as All-Big 10 third team by the coaches last season. Onwenu is built like a brick ****house at 6’3 and 350 pounds.
The center is junior Cesar Ruiz, the former #1 overall center recruit out of IMG Academy. As a true sophomore last season, Ruiz started all 13 games at center and was selected as All-Big 10 third team.
Looking past their accolades, their film suggests that all three have a future in the NFL.
Ben Bredeson is built like the prototypical NFL guard at 6’5 and 320 pounds, and operates with a sound and clean base. Outstanding with his zone tracks, Bredeson clears space past the line of scrimmage.
Playing with a patented nasty streak, Bredeson brings violence at the end of his pulls. That translates into his pass protection as well, as he’s looking to reset the balance of defensive lineman with multiple punches and constant hand fighting.
Bredeson is the best finisher of the group, showing off his power and mental makeup for the next level.
For his size and thickness, Michael Onwenu’s athleticism is impressive. With the ability to reach defensive lineman, Onwenu is able to get into their frame and dominate at the point of attack. On pulls, Onwenu is able to log defensive ends in space and create a soft edge for outside runs.
That athleticism and mobility for a player of Onwenu’s stature bodes well for his NFL future because he already has the requisite strength and power in his frame. That power allows him to anchor on his pass sets against even the strongest interior defensive lineman.
Ruiz is the puppy of the group, but already has 18 starts to his name (5 of which came at right guard). Important aspects of playing center at the next level include reach blocks of shades and down blocks that allow for guards to pull. Ruiz showed success on both of these blocks, allowing his guards to play to their strengths.
Past the typical center blocks, one impressive aspect of Ruiz’s game comes in space. He can easily get on the edge and pick up blocks of pursuing defenders. His athleticism is part of the reason he was a highly ranked recruit, and will be one of his calling cards if he declares for the 2020 NFL Draft.
After reviewing the film, it’s apparent that Michigan will have one of the best interior offensive lines in the country in 2019. With Beau Benzschawel, Michael Deiter, Michael Jordan, Ross Reynolds and Connor McGovern all gone from the conference, it’s possible that Michigan’s interior sweeps the conference first-team awards by season’s end.
Keep your eyes peeled on Wolverines game this upcoming season.