The Philadelphia Eagles were happy to sign Penn State offensive lineman Ryan Bates as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2019 NFL Draft. The team was willing to spend a Day 3 pick on him, according to what Benjamin Solak had to say on a recent BGN Radio episode.
The odds are naturally stacked against any UDFA player but Bates might have a shot to crack the Eagles’ roster. At the very least, it seems like he’ll be in consideration for the practice squad.
In order to learn more about Bates, I reached out to SB Nation’s Penn State blog: Black Shoe Diaries. Nittany Lions writer Dylan Callaghan-Croley was kind enough to answer my questions.
1) Can you sum up what Bates’ college career was like?
Bates was a three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, making 35 starts in 37 career appearances and was a game changer for them on the offensive line. While he wasn’t a perfect lineman by any means, the offensive line when Bates was on it was stronger and more confident. In his redshirt freshman season, he earned multiple Freshman All-American honors. While he didn’t develop into the offensive lineman that some thought he could be from that freshman season, he still was a two-time All-Big Ten third team recipient in 2017 and 2018.
2) What are his strengths?
Bates is an all-around versatile offensive lineman who can play a variety of positions. He’s also pretty athletic, so asking him to do some moving around or doing some swing work shouldn’t be a problem at all for him. He moves off the ball pretty well which does help him in the pass protection and he was one of the Nittany Lion’s best pass protectors over the course of his time in Happy Valley.
3) What are his weaknesses?
Bates biggest weaknesses I would say is his lack of leverage and power at times. For a man who tested well at the combine, he isn’t the best when it comes to finding leverage with his hands and in result turning that into power. Though working with an offensive line coach like Jeff Stoutland could go along way in helping solve some of those issues. One spot he may get hurt early on in his NFL career is with his size, with him being on the smaller side at 6-foot-4 and 304-pounds, he really struggled when getting bulled rushed in college and with NFL lineman being bigger and stronger, he will need to learn to compensate for his lack of size quickly. Additionally, he needs to be better when it comes to his run blocking duties especially in being aggressive.
4) Are you surprised where he was drafted? Higher or lower than expected? Just right?
I think I can speak on behalf of our entire website and really anybody who watches PSU football on a weekly basis. While we didn’t expect Bates to be a day one or day two draft pick this year, we expected him to be a solid day three pickup. That obviously didn’t happen, so for him to go completely undrafted left us flabbergasted. He has the talent to play at the NFL level, he may need a bit of polishing so perhaps time on a practice squad could do him some good in terms of his development.
5) How do you see his NFL career playing out?
I think this first training camp it goes without saying will be huge for Ryan Bates future in the NFL. I think if he can put together a strong camp, he has a chance to either stick around with the Eagles in some capacity or float around the league. The Eagles definitely have a need for more offensive lineman and Bates would be a great addition to that if he plays well this preseason. The one thing that will keep him around the NFL with the Eagles or another franchise, however, is his versatility, which I think could allow him to carve out a lengthy career.
6) Anything to know about him off the field?
Overall, Bates is pretty much a quiet and hard working guy. He has a great work ethic from everything I’ve heard and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get better. He was one of the more highly respected teammates in Penn State’s locker room and was one of the leaders on the offensive line. Add in the factor that he is getting a chance to play for his hometown team, just 20-30 minutes away from where he grew up and there’s a strong recipe for success.
Spider graph via Mockdraftable:
Relative athletic score: