Breaking Down the Detroit Lions First Round Pick: Frank Ragnow

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ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23: Arkansas Razorbacks offensive lineman Frank Ragnow (72) prepares to snap the ball during the game between Arkansas and Texas A&M on September 23, 2017, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
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Breaking Down Detroit Lions First Round Pick Frank Ragnow

The Detroit Lions selected former Arkansas center Frank Ragnow with the 20th overall pick in the NFL Draft last night. The pick was a surprise to everyone, including Ragnow himself.

Surprised? Don’t be

While picking Ragnow at 20th overall was a shock to almost everyone, it seems as though Lions general manager Bob Quinn had the plan in place for a long time. In the call to Ragnow, he said the Lions were very impressed when they met with him at the combine and were trying to keep their interest in Ragnow under the radar. They did a good job of that, with no documented contact between the parties occurring between the combine and the draft.

The pick also isn’t as much of a reach as many may think. Ragnow had been a very late riser in mock drafts, moving from a late day two pick to sneaking into the first round over the last couple weeks alone.

The Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots, who picked at 21st and 23rd overall respectively, both had a high interest in Ragnow but ended up taking other interior linemen once he was off the board. Clearly, the Lions weren’t alone in their thinking.

With his athletic ability and his consistently high level of play, the rise was warranted. Over the last two seasons, Ragnow posted two of the three highest graded seasons at center of all time, per Pro Football Focus.

On top of that, Ragnow graded out at first or second overall in several of PFF’s run- and pass-blocking metrics during his 2017 campaign.

Frank Ragnow, freak athlete

Ragnow posted incredible numbers over the last two seasons, but was sidelined midway through the 2017 season with an ankle injury that required surgery and caused him to miss the athletic portion of the combine.

Nonetheless, Ragnow shined at his pro day, posting a 9.93 Relative Athletic Score that ranked him fourth overall out of 434 centers since 1987. On top of that, Ragnow grades out as an elite athlete at guard as well, where he played 15 games in college; he posted a 9.84 RAS at guard, putting him at 16th out of 926 graded guards. Not only does Ragnow have the size, but he has the speed and agility to match up with anyone in the trenches.

Figuring out the situation at center

That versatility will come in handy. Many anticipated the Lions drafting a guard, with LG/C Graham Glasgow expected to move back to his natural position at center. Glasgow took over when starting center Travis Swanson was sidelined with a season ending injury last year, and played noticeably some of his best football in that time.

Bob Quinn said in the phone call to Frank Ragnow last night, “we’re not sure what position you’re gonna play, we just know you’re a good offensive lineman; we’ll fit you in with the rest of our crew.”

Expect to see Ragnow, Glasgow, and right guard T.J. Lang shuffled around the interior offensive line in training camp to figure out what works best for the Lions.

Ragnow a big help to the Lions’ running game

With the selection of Ragnow, Bob Quinn has now drafted or signed players at every position on the offensive line in his tenure. Now having his coach as well in Matt Patricia, fans can expect the running game to take a big step forward in the coming season.

The selection of Ragnow at 20 will be a much bigger help to the running game than any running back would’ve been at that position. That being said, with such a high investment in the running game early on, don’t be surprised if Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia are confident enough in their run game now that the Lions pass on running backs for the remainder of the draft.

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