Ryan Bates made his first career start in the season opener of his redshirt freshman season if 2016. This started a three-year stretch of Bates being the team’s best offensive lineman.
During Bates time on campus the Nittany Lions played 40 games. He appeared in 37 of them with 35 starts. The only games he missed came in 2017 after he injured his ankle against Ohio State. An injury that, in my opinion, cost the Nittany Lions victory that day and in turn a College Football Playoff berth in 2017. But I digress.
His performance as a redshirt freshman earned Bates Freshman All-American honors with both USA Today and the Football Writers Association of America. He was also a member of ESPN and BTN’s All-Big Ten Freshman Team. Bates then went on to be a third-team all-conference performer in both 2017 and 2018.
While in Happy Valley Bates did a little bit of everything for offensive line coach Matt Limegrover. He made starts at left guard, right tackle, and left tackle for the Nittany Lions. While he is best suited for the interior at the next level, he was a plus performer at both guard and tackle in college.
What You’re Getting
The athleticism and positional flexibility that Bates brings to the table are what makes him intriguing to NFL front offices. While, yes, he is best suited for guard at the NFL level, if a team needed him to he could play tackle as well. With a rise in popularity of offensive linemen that are capable of playing both sweeping across the NFL, this is something that will benefit Bates.
On top of being a versatile player, he has a quick first step and fires off the ball well. This first step will make Bates effective with pull blocking in the NFL. His ability to pull is another reason why he is best suited to play in the interior at the next level.
At the next level, Bates size could be something that works against him. Bates struggled at times in college when facing bull rushing opponents. Defensive linemen in the NFL will only be bigger and stronger, making the bull rush an even bigger issue for Bates.
If Bates can keep his pad level low he can be a strong run blocker in the NFL. He will never be the biggest or strongest player on the line, but his ability to use his hands and get off the ball quickly still set him up to be a successful run blocker.