After a mediocre class last year, the Arkansas Razorbacks are in a solid position to bounce back in the 2022 NFL Draft. While Treylon Burks and Jalen Catalon have earned national attention, Arkansas center Ricky Stromberg is one of the best interior offensive linemen in the 2022 NFL Draft class. While he won’t replicate Frank Ragnow’s first-round selection in 2018, Stromberg’s scouting report reveals pro potential.
Ricky Stromberg NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Center
- School: Arkansas
- Current Year: Junior
- Height: 6’4″
- Weight: 310 pounds
Ricky Stromberg Scouting Report
While the center position is often considered undervalued in the NFL Draft, history shows that several players will be selected at the position in 2022. Last season, 10 centers were selected, with 11 drafted in 2015 and 2018. As you can see, there is demand at the position, and Stromberg’s scouting report suggests he can be one of the top centers in the 2022 NFL Draft.
As with any position, athleticism makes a great starting point for Stromberg’s scouting report. With the general opinion that you can coach technique but not athleticism, you’re probably in trouble from the get-go if you don’t have the latter.
Thankfully for Stromberg, he displays some impressive athletic tendencies. The Arkansas center is routinely the first offensive lineman off the ball for the Razorbacks, showing explosion in his game. Furthermore, he gets out to the second level with relative ease. He won’t test as the fastest offensive lineman at the NFL Combine, but Stromberg moves well out in the open field. He’s also shown flexibility to flip his hips to toss his man to the ground.
This ability to put a man in the ground is one of his most impressive attributes. Stromberg has that mauler mentality that separates good from great offensive linemen. He plays the game with violence. While this helps him excel in the run game, he is also proficient as a pass protector.
Strength, intelligence, and versatility
A component of this is his strength. Stromberg appears to possess excellent upper body strength. Furthermore, he’s demonstrated solid power from his lower half. You can see this in the ground game, where he routinely drives with his legs. However, it is also apparent in pass protection, where he sets with a wide base to form a solid anchor.
Stromberg also displays impressive football intelligence. At the pivot, he’s tasked with communicating with the entire offensive line to ensure they are correctly set. Furthermore, he routinely looks for work, keeping his head on a swivel to pick up free pass rushers.
In addition to his strength, athleticism, and football intelligence, the Arkansas center offers some elements of versatility. While he’s been used exclusively at center these past few seasons, Stromberg has starting experience at both guard spots, which will only add value to his 2022 NFL Draft stock.
Areas for improvement
Although some areas of Stromberg’s scouting report match the requirements of the center position in the NFL, there is room for improvement. There is a reason why he isn’t being considered alongside Tyler Linderbaum as a first-round prospect. That’s not to say he’s not an excellent talent in his own right — just that there are some things he needs to improve.
On the whole, Stromberg’s hand usage is good. He displays some excellent technical ability with regard to timing and placement. However, in the games studied, there were multiple examples where this needs to be improved.
Sometimes the timing of his initial punch is off, leaving him flailing in thin air. Other times, his positioning is just off, landing outside of the chest plate. This is particularly apparent when he attempts to block on the move.
This could be the result of a lack of lateral agility. While Stromberg can move well out to the second level motoring straight ahead, there are some issues with his footwork when tasked with moving laterally. This could result in him being scheme-limited at the NFL level.
Ricky Stromberg Player Profile
Although he has flown somewhat under the radar compared to Treylon Burks and Jalen Catalon in the 2022 NFL Draft class, Stromberg was a phenom at Union High School in Tulsa. In 2016, he became the first sophomore to start on the offensive line in school history. As a three-year starter, the versatile offensive lineman was credited with never allowing a sack.
During that sophomore season, Stromberg helped Union to an 11-2 record and a state championship. While they improved their record to 12-1 in 2017, the school lost in the 6A-I title game. As a senior, Union went 9-3 while reaching a state semifinal and ranking fourth in Oklahoma.
Although 2018 was Union’s worst season of his time there, Stromberg was named the District 6A-I-2 Offensive Lineman of the Year. Showcasing the athleticism and versatility that will add value to his 2022 NFL Draft stock, Stromberg also played defensive line during his senior season.
Accolades, adoration, and a long road to Arkansas
Yet, there was no doubt that Stromberg’s future lay on the offensive side of the ball, with Union coach Kirk Fridrich asserting:
“He’s the best lineman we’ve had. I’ve been there 13 years, and without doubt, he was the best one we had.”
Stromberg’s recruiting journey didn’t reflect the accolades and adoration of his head coach. A three-star recruit by the 247 Sports composite, his 10 offers came mostly from Group of Five schools. As a result, he committed to Tulsa in June 2018 with his dream of playing Power Five football apparently out of reach. However, Arkansas extended an offer late in the process, and Stromberg flipped his commitment to sign with the Razorbacks.
“It was always my dream to play at a bigger school, so I was hoping it would happen,” Stromberg told wholehogsports.com. “I had a feeling it would, and it all worked out. It was a dream come true, like a childhood dream. Something you dream of all the time.”
Stromberg’s career at Arkansas
Despite being a late addition to Arkansas’ recruiting class, Stromberg made an immediate impression at Fayetteville. Having seen action in the season opener against Portland State, the freshman offensive lineman earned a starting spot for the remaining 11 games of the season.
Stromberg showcased versatility as well as ability in his first season for Arkansas. He made two starts at left guard, with the other nine on the right side of the line. In total, he played 741 snaps in 2019 while not allowing a sack on 417 pass-protection plays.
Having impressed in 2019, Stromberg pushed inside to the pivot for his sophomore season. Making eight starts in the shortened campaign, he took 628 offensive snaps, fourth-most on the team. Once again, he displayed incredible pass-protection potential and allowed just 1 sack in 355 pass-blocking snaps. His impact was also felt in the ground game, as Arkansas made a small leap from 85th-ranked to 78th nationally.
Achieving national attention ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft
Although he didn’t receive the same preseason NFL Draft attention as Linderbaum, college football experts were clearly paying close attention to Stromberg. The Arkansas offensive lineman was named to the 2021 Rimington Award Watch List ahead of the 2021 campaign.
Stromberg has also earned national attention for his performances on the field so far this season. Following a dominant performance against Georgia Southern, he was named co-SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. It was the first time an Arkansas offensive lineman had won the award since 2016.
The Arkansas center has played a pivotal role in the Razorbacks’ success this season. Through Week 10, Stromberg has helped pave the way for the fourth-best rushing offense in the nation. Furthermore, Arkansas has a top-30 passing offense. While the main component of that passing game — wide receiver Burks — is likely to be a first-round prospect, don’t be surprised to see Stromberg emerge as a Day 2 selection.