In this week’s international player scouting report, we’ll take a look at Latvian-born nose tackle Ralfs Rusins.
Ralfs Rusins, DL, Liberty University
Rusins was encouraged to take up football by his father, who wanted his son to try something different. A physically gifted athlete with a promising career on the basketball court, and a former Judo superstar, it was no surprise that he was a standout on the field.
As such, he decided to take a chance stateside, where Liberty University saw something in him. In his four-year stint, he racked up 141 total tackles (15 for loss) and six sacks. A nice resumé.
Weight: 325 lbs
Wingspan: 78 7/8″
+ Impressive Body Control: Rusins, a three-time Latvian national Judo champion, has his former training to thank for this. For someone of his size, he has incredible balance, especially when he’s shrugging off the linesman.
+ Quick off the snap: Once again, that Judo background comes in handy. His speed off the snap doesn’t leave much to be desired, working quickly at collapsing the pocket. He is incredibly effective against the run, which we know the Bills had a *slight* problem with.
+ Loves to crowd mobile QBs: Mahomes, Burrow, and Jackson – to name a few – aren’t afraid to run when nothing’s open downfield. But Rusins doesn’t like the arrogance of such of a player. Coupled with his speed, his initial burst of contact pushes him straight into the pocket and right into the QB’s face.
– Fundamentals need work: Here is where Rusins’ background fails him. When on the field, you can tell he was once a fighter, but you can’t see the football player. His former training has gotten him this far, but the technique isn’t there. He defaults to his bull rush because there’s nothing else in his repertoire.
– Not very aggressive: We all love when a player throws a guy to the ground. That pure physical nature of football is so fun to watch, but Rusins plays very passive. He reminds me of Michael Oher in those first few football practises. He just needs to use that strength a bit more.
– Plays too straight: Again, the fundamentals come into this. From the limited footage I’ve seen of Rusins so far, it seems to show him playing whilst standing upright. Luckily, his balance keeps him there, but that leverage can only hold for so long. His technique needs work.
Should he be an “International Bill”?
I like what I’ve seen of Ralfs Rusins so far. He’s not yet ready for the big stage but, with just a bit of training under DL Coach Eric Washington, he can be exactly what the Bills need.