Ryan Van Demark has officially signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent. Van Demark agreed to a fully guaranteed deal worth 175,000 dollars. I predicted Ryan Van Demark’s signing in my previous article. In my opinion, the combination of Van Demark’s experience at LT, athleticism/athletic traits, and his character/leadership (on the field and in the locker room) is what ultimately sealed the deal for Ballard to pull the trigger on Van Demark.
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The ability of an offensive lineman to put his body in the right position to succeed and then make the correct block/read every play; is nearly impossible. In Van Demark’s case, his fundamentals are where they need to be in terms of foot placement, appropriate body positioning, and the ability to seal the edge when needed.
While Van Demark’s fundamentals, athletic tools, character, and work ethic are NFL ready, his ability to stop speed edge rushers in the run game and the passing game is ultimately subpar. As I mentioned earlier, Van Demark is a sound athlete. Van Demark has a RAS (relative athletic score) of 9.45 out of a possible 10-point scale.
Even though Van Demark is extremely athletic for his size and weight, his weakness is his lack of quickness of the line in certain situations. If Van Demark struggles with speed rushers, players like Josh Allen, Micah Parsons, and potentially Travon Walker could easily have their way with Van Demark in game situations. Not getting a proper block on an undersized speed-demon of an edge rusher will cause Matt Ryan to get hit more pressure than he would hope.
With all the upside related to Van Demark, his weaknesses shine just as bright. According to PFF, there are 33 hurries contributed to his name (in the last two seasons), which should worry you. This means Van Demark has trouble stopping aggressive speed rushers that have no problem getting by him with their increased acceleration. Van Demark contributed to giving up 10 QB hits and 10 QB sacks in 2019 and 2021 combined. To improve from his 58.1 PFF grade in 2021, he must increase his speed, acceleration, and his strength.
Van Demark has the characteristics, the football IQ, and the athletic tools to have the opportunity to be able to blossom into a backup LT for the Colts. Considering the Colts gave Van Demark the most money compared to their other UDFA signings, they must believe in him to be able to make a difference on the roster this upcoming season.
With the departure of Julien Davenport and the Colts moving on from Eric Fisher and Sam Tevi, The Colts need more offensive tackle depth behind Matt Pryor, Will Fries, Braden Smith, and the newly drafted offensive tackle Bernhard Raimann. I think Van Demark can play both left and right tackle, especially if he wants to make a difference on the Colts this season.
Playing both tackle positions is hard to do (especially in the NFL), but with the talent ahead of Van Demark on the depth chart, it makes more sense for him to become a swing tackle to have his best opportunity to secure a spot on the Colts roster.
Van Demark should have his chance to make some noise during rookie minicamp and training camp, but it will be an uphill task to perform well versus an improved and very explosive Colts defense. If Van Demark can successfully show the Colts he can perform vs. their top 10 defense, he will be able to do it versus anyone. He is one of the players to have your eyes on this summer and see how he progresses over the time of camp.
The Colts are in a great position with Van Demark, and now it is up to Van Demark to show Ballard and Co. that he was worth the most UDFA money given out to Colt’s signee. I predict Van Demark will make the roster or be a prioritized practice squad member for when the Colts are in a crunch with injuries. Ballard loves his depth, and you can never have enough depth at any position (especially offensive line).
Ballard has proven time and time again to trust him on his choice of offensive lineman, and Van Demark is the new player to start believing in and become a fan of him. Everyone hop abroad the Ryan Van Demark hype train, choo-choo!
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