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On the Draft Board: Eastern Michigan’s Jose Ramirez

A productive pass rusher from the MAC has drawn interest from the Chiefs.

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl - Eastern Michigan v San Jose State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs know they need more bodies at the defensive end position, and they'll be doing their due diligence on this year's draft class of pass rushers. It's why they met virtually with Eastern Michigan edge defender Jose Ramirez, according to The Draft Network's Justin Melo.

Ramirez was a productive pass rusher over his last two seasons at Eastern Michigan, capping off six years at the college level with a 2022 season where he earned first-team all-conference honors and led the nation in sacks (12).

Here's everything to know about Ramirez:

Background

As a high school football player from the Orlando, Florida, area, Ramirez made an impact as a wide receiver, cornerback, safety and linebacker — doing enough to earn three stars and an opportunity to play football at the University of Arizona.

After not seeing the field in 2017, Ramirez transferred to Riverside City College in California for one season; he notched eight sacks and one forced fumble. From there, Ramirez enrolled at Eastern Michigan and became one of the MAC's most feared pass rushers over four seasons.

Ramirez totaled 20.5 sacks and 33 tackles for loss over four years while also defending seven passes and forcing five fumbles. That production led him to earn all-conference honors for both 2021 and 2022.

At the NFL Combine, Ramirez was measured at 6'2" and 242 lbs. He pairs 32 3/4-inch arms with hands of 8 3/4-inches, which are in the second percentile for edge-rushing prospects historically. He recorded a vertical leap of 34.5 inches but topped that by running the three-cone drill in 6.95 seconds and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.3 seconds; both results led defensive end prospects at the combine.

Film evaluation

Ramirez did his work almost exclusively from the edge of the defensive front, rushing from outside the tackle on the vast majority of his pass-down snaps. He was rarely asked to drop into coverage but played primarily from a two-point stance.

As his testing numbers may suggest, Ramirez's primary method of winning against a pass-setting offensive tackle is with speed off the ball and flexibility around the edge. He gets great jumps off the snap, then has a built-in advantage when bending the arc because of his shorter stature. It allows him to corner the pocket consistently, but he shows the follow-through to get past the outside shoulder and actually get to the quarterback.

Great balance and ankle flexion allow him to do this, but it's also because of an advanced understanding of how to use his hands through the rep. In the second play, Ramirez completely prevents the tackle from getting his arms on him by grabbing both wrists and throwing them away while seamlessly rushing past and into the pocket for a sack.

That hand usage represents that Ramirez attacks pass rush with a strategy, using his speed as a foundation to set up counter moves as series or games go along. In this first play, he hits the offensive tackle with a double move; he threatens to speed up the arc, then bursts to the inside shoulder and stops on a dime and goes back to the outside for a sufficient pressure on the quarterback.

That move worked especially well because he does well with inside moves, whether just exploding toward the tackle's inside shoulder or spinning from outside in.

When Ramirez converts speed to power, you see the leverage from his shorter stature allows him to get a nice forward lean, giving him a great angle to leg drive and create penetration through the blocker. That works a lot better against tackles in the MAC than it will in the NFL, but it's the angle Ramirez works from that can give him more success in his bull rush than other rushes as light as him.

You'll see Ramirez work in the run game with good fundamentals, stacking blockers and shedding when he's one on one on edge. He can be moved and controlled by offensive linemen in the run game, but he doesn't make it easy on blockers to get a firm grasp on him.

How he fits with the Chiefs

If Kansas City used a draft pick on Ramirez, it would likely be a high enough selection to view him as a legitimate piece of the edge-rushing rotation immediately. He is not the typical size and length of a defensive lineman under defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Still, his speed rushing ability can complement the rest of the group's length and power.

It may sound like Ramirez brings a similar ability as defensive end Mike Danna, but Ramirez would be much more of a pass-rush specialist — and would not be used as an interior player nearly as much. Ramirez does his best work coming from the outside of an offensive tackle.

He would need to continue progressing as an edge setter to play on all three downs for the Chiefs, but he could come in and generate pressure on the quarterback immediately.

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